Glossary Entry: Indwelling Catheter


Definition: An indwelling catheter is a flexible tube inserted through the urethra into the bladder to drain urine. It is often used in medical settings for patients who are unable to urinate on their own, such as those with urinary retention or incontinence.

Detailed Description

Types and Variations

Variations: Indwelling catheters come in different sizes and materials, including latex, silicone, and hydrogel-coated catheters. Some variations also include antiseptic or antimicrobial coatings for infection prevention.


Common Uses: Indwelling catheters are commonly used in patients undergoing surgery, those with spinal cord injuries, neurological disorders, or conditions that affect bladder control, as well as critically ill individuals who are unable to mobilize to the bathroom.

Insertion and Placement

Procedure: The insertion of an indwelling catheter requires sterile technique to prevent infection. The catheter is inserted into the bladder through the urethra and then secured in place. The Seldinger technique may be used for insertion, particularly in difficult cases or with certain types of catheters.

Clinical Considerations

Potential Complications

Risks: Potential complications of indwelling catheters include urinary tract infections, bladder spasms, blockages, and tissue damage around the insertion site.

Care and Maintenance

Maintenance Requirements: Proper care and maintenance of the catheter include regular cleaning of the insertion site, securement of the catheter to prevent pulling, and monitoring for signs of infection.

Additional Information

Related Devices

Associated Terms: Accessories such as drainage bags, catheter valves, and securing devices are often used in conjunction with indwelling catheters.

Innovations and Advancements

Recent Developments: Recent advancements in catheter materials and coatings have improved infection prevention and patient comfort.

Regulatory and Safety Notes

Regulations: There are specific guidelines for the use and maintenance of indwelling catheters to ensure patient safety and prevent complications.