Catheter/Tubing FAQs

My catheter/suprapubic tube is not draining. What should I do?

Check for any kinks or twists in the drainage tubing. If you had some bleeding with clots, you probably need to have the catheter irrigated to flush out the clots. If you have an irrigating syringe, you can try to withdraw fluid first, then use 20-30 cc of sterile water or saline to irrigate until the tubing is running freely. Otherwise, during office hours, you can come by the office to get the tubing flushed or the catheter replaced, but after hours, you will need to go to the nearest ER to get treatment.

  • Urine leaking around the catheter can occur when sitting for a period of time, or during a bowel movement, or from bladder spasms. This is transient, and should improve with repositioning of the leg bag or the drainage tubing.
  • Tube connection is leaking. Clean the connection site to remove old tape or residual tape adhesive. If there is a hole in the tubing to a leg bag or night drainage bag, you can cover the hole with duct tape, and then you can come by the office to have one of the nurses get you replacement tubing. If this leak is from a catheter placed in Emory Radiology (such as a nephrostomy tube or drainage catheter), then you should contact Interventional Radiology (404-712-0532) to have it replaced or repositioned.
  • Unable to flush neobladder. Make sure the tubing or catheter is not pinched off or kinked. With the neobladder, you can try flushing or irrigating through the other catheter (urethral catheter or suprapubic catheter). Once the mucus plugs are cleared, the urine should flow easily. If you are still having problems with flushing the neobladder, make an appointment to come to the office to see the physician assistant or nurse. You may need to have X-rays to make sure the tubes are in proper position.
  • Bleeding in or around Foley catheter or nephrostomy tube - see hematuria.
  • If you are having symptoms like urinary urgency, frequency, and bladder pain, you are having bladder spasms from catheter irritation. Medications that relax the bladder, called anti-cholinergics, like ditropan or detrol LA will be prescribed as long as you have no problems with GERD (acid reflux) or glaucoma. If the symptoms are getting worse, you might need to have the catheter changed. Contact the Call Center (404-778-4898) to discuss with the nurse.
Urology Conditions