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Urinary catheter - infants

Alternative Names:

Bladder catheter - infants; Foley catheter - infants


A urinary catheter is a small, soft tube placed in the bladder.


A catheter may be needed if your baby is making only small amounts of urine. This could be because your baby has low blood pressure or an abnormally developed urinary system, or uses medicine that decreases urine production or that will not allow your baby to move his or her muscles. With the catheter your baby's urine can be closely measured, which will help your doctor determine how much fluid your baby needs.


The catheter is placed into the bladder through the opening to the passage where urine leaves the body. This is called the urethra. Its opening is located at the tip of the penis in boys and near the vagina in girls. The area around it is carefully cleaned. Then a sterile catheter is inserted into the bladder.

In older children, a small balloon near the tip of the catheter is inflated with water to help hold the catheter in place. The catheter, called a Foley catheter, may be connected to a sterile bag to allow the urine to be accurately measured.


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.

Review Date: 11/14/2011
Reviewed By: 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, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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