Navigate Up

Pediatric Center - A-Z Index

#
Q
Z

Print This Page

Urinary catheter - infants

Alternative Names

Bladder catheter - infants; Foley catheter - infants

Information

A urinary catheter is a small, soft tube placed in the bladder. This article addresses urinary catheters in babies.

Why is a urinary catheter used?

Babies need urinary catheters if they are not making much urine. Babies can have low urine because they:

  • Have low blood pressure
  • Have an abnormally developed urinary system
  • Take medicines that will not allow them to move their muscles, such as when a child is on a ventilator

When your baby has a catheter, doctors and nurses can measure how much urine is coming out. They can figure out how much fluid your baby needs.

How is a urinary catheter placed?

A doctor or nurse puts the catheter into the urethra and up into the bladder. The urethra is the opening at the tip of the penis in boys and near the vagina in girls. The doctor or nurse will:

  1. Clean the tip of the penis or around the vagina.
  2. Gently put the catheter into the bladder.
  3. If a Foley catheter is used, there is a very small balloon on the end of the catheter in the bladder. This is filled with a small amount of water to keep the catheter from falling out.
  4. The catheter is connected to a bag for the urine to go into.
  5. This bag is emptied into a measuring cup to see how much urine your baby is making.

What are the risks of a urinary catheter?

There is a small risk of injury to the urethra or the bladder when the catheter is inserted. Urinary catheters that are left in place for more than a few days increase the risk for a bladder or kidney infection.

Updated: 10/29/2013

Kimberly G Lee, MD, MSc, IBCLC, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com