Urethral catheterization is a procedure in which a soft, flexible latex tube (urinary catheter) is placed within the urethra and into the urinary bladder. Many urinary catheters have an inflatable “balloon” at the end of the catheter which is placed within the neck of the urinary bladder. When this balloon is inflated with sterile saline, it keeps the catheter securely in place. When the urinary catheter is to be removed, the balloon is deflated, and the catheter slides out.
Urethral catheterization is important in patients that have difficulty urinating due to lower urinary tract disease, such as cancer, infection, or bladder stones.
Urinary catheters allow urine to freely flow from the bladder, which is usually collected in a closed urinary collection system. This allows the amount of urine being produced to be measured, and parameters of the urine to be evaluated and monitored.