How to irrigate or flush a catheter

Written by jennifer leigh
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How to irrigate or flush a catheter
Patients using catheters at home might need to have them irrigated occasionally. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

If you are caring for an individual with a catheter, you will likely need to irrigate, or flush it at some point. Catheters are used to drain the bladder when other means are not possible due to surgery, illness, incontinence, retention or certain other medical conditions that makes urination difficult. Catheters can become clogged, and do not drain well, when there are problems with an individual's urine, so irrigating the catheter may become necessary to help prevent further health problems.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • 2 syringes with catheter tips
  • Towel
  • Cotton balls
  • Alcohol
  • Paper towels
  • Sterile container
  • Irrigation solution
  • Clean cap

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  1. 1

    Open a catheter tip syringe packet. This should be new and sterile. Take 10ml of irrigation solution into the syringe. Place the syringe back into the packaging, to keep the tip sterile until it is used.

  2. 2

    Place a towel under the catheter. Clean the connection between the catheter and the drainage tubing with cotton balls and alcohol. Allow to them to dry.

  3. 3

    Disconnect the catheter from the drainage tubing with a twist. Use a clean cap to cover the end of the tubing to keep it clean. Insert an empty syringe into the catheter, and pull back on it. If urine comes out of the bladder, empty the rest of the bladder gently.

  4. 4

    Remove the syringe. Insert the syringe with irrigation solution into the catheter. Use the plunger to gently push the solution into the bladder. If this does not happen easily, pull back gently on the plunger to aspirate the bladder. If this does not work, call a doctor. Otherwise, after inserting the fluid into the bladder, withdraw it with the plunger.

  5. 5

    Clean the connection between the tubing and the catheter with alcohol and cotton balls, and allow them to dry. Reconnect the catheter to the tubing.

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