Managing complications associated with the use of indwelling urinary catheters
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Managing complications associated with the use of indwelling urinary catheters

Penny Tremayne Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, De Montfort University, Leicester, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand the clinical indications for urinary catheterisation

  • To familiarise yourself with the main complications associated with indwelling urinary catheterisation

  • To increase your knowledge of how to reduce the incidence of catheter-associated complications

The insertion of an indwelling urethral urinary catheter is an invasive procedure that is commonly undertaken in healthcare settings. However, there are several risks and potential complications associated with these devices, so their use should be avoided where possible. It is important that nurses are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills not only to assess if a patient requires a catheter, but also to minimise the risk of associated complications and to understand how these can be managed. This article discusses some of the common complications that can occur with the use of indwelling urinary catheters, including: catheter-associated urinary tract infections; catheter blockages; encrustation; negative pressure; bladder spasm and trauma; and, in men, paraphimosis. It also explains the steps that nurses can take to reduce the risk of these complications and how to manage them effectively.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11599

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Tremayne P (2020) Managing complications associated with the use of indwelling urinary catheters. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11599

Published online: 19 October 2020

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