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Urine drainage bags

Urine drainage bags collect urine. Your bag will attach to a catheter (tube) that is inside your bladder. You may have a catheter and urine drainage bag because you have urinary incontinence (leakage), urinary retention (not being able to urinate), surgery that made a catheter necessary, or another health problem.

Alternate Names

Leg bag

How Your Leg Bag Works

Urine will pass through the catheter in your bladder into the leg bag.

  • Your leg bag will be attached to you all day. You can move around freely with it.
  • You can hide your leg bag under skirts, dresses, or pants. They come in all different sizes and styles.
  • At night, you will need to use a bedside bag.

Where to place your leg bag:

  • Attach your leg bag to your thigh with Velcro or elastic straps.
  • Make sure the bag is always lower than your bladder. This keeps urine from flowing back into your bladder.

Emptying Your Leg Bag

Always empty your bag in a clean bathroom. Do NOT let the bag or tube openings touch any of the bathroom surfaces (toilet, wall, floor, and others). Empty your bag into the toilet at least two or three times a day, or when it is a third to a half full.

Follow these steps for emptying your bag:

  • Wash your hands well.
  • Keep the bag below your hip or bladder as you empty it.
  • Hold the bag over the toilet, or the special container your doctor gave you.
  • Open the spout at the bottom of the bag, and empty it into the toilet or container.
  • Do not let the bag touch the rim of the toilet or container.
  • Clean the spout with rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball or gauze.
  • Close the spout tightly.
  • Do not place the bag on the floor. Attach it to your leg again.
  • Wash your hands again.

Changing Your Leg Bag

Change your bag once a month. Change it sooner if it smells bad or looks dirty. Follow these steps for changing your bag:

  • Wash your hands well.
  • Disconnect the valve at the end of the tube near the bag. Try not to pull too hard. Do not let the end of the tube or bag touch anything, including your hands.
  • Clean the end of the tube with rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball or gauze.
  • Clean the opening of the clean bag with rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball or gauze if it is not a new bag.
  • Attach the tube to the bag tightly.
  • Strap the bag to your leg.
  • Wash your hands again.

Cleaning Your Leg Bag

Clean your bedside bag each morning. Clean your leg bag each night before changing to the bedside bag.

  • Wash your hands well.
  • Disconnect the tube from the bag. Attach the tube to a clean bag.
  • Clean the used bag by filling it with a solution of 2 parts white vinegar and 3 parts water. Or, you can use 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach mixed with about a half cup of water.
  • Close the bag with the cleaning liquid in it. Shake the bag a little.
  • Let the bag soak in this solution for 20 minutes.
  • Hang the bag to dry with the bottom spout hanging down.

When to Call the Doctor

A urinary tract infection is the most common problem for people with an indwelling urinary catheter.

Call your doctor or nurse if you have signs of an infection, such as:

  • Pain around your sides or lower back
  • Urine smells bad, or it is cloudy or a different color
  • Fever or chills
  • A burning sensation or pain in your bladder or pelvis
  • You don't feel like yourself -- you feel tired, achy, and have a hard time focusing.

Call your doctor or nurse if you:

  • Are not sure how to attach, clean, or empty your leg bag
  • Notice your bag is filling up quickly, or not at all
  • Have a skin rash or sores
  • Have any questions about your catheter bag

References

Cochran S. Care of the indwelling urinary catheter: is it evidence? J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2007 May-Jun;34(3):282-8.

Feneley RC. An indwelling urinary catheter for the 21st century. BJU International. 2012 June;109(12):1746-9.

Updated: 12/12/2012

Jennifer K. Mannheim, ARNP, Medical Staff, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Seattle Children's Hospital; and Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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