Review of Intermittent Catheterization and Current Best Practices

Diane K. Newman, MSN, ANP-BC, CRNP, FAAN, BCIA-PMDB; Margaret M. Willson, MSN, RN CWOCN


Urol Nurs. 2011;31(1) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Intermittent catheterization is the insertion and removal of a catheter several times a day to empty the bladder. This type of catheterization is used to drain urine from a bladder that is not emptying adequately or from a surgically created channel that connects the bladder with the abdominal surface (such as Mitrofanoff continent urinary diversion). Intermittent catheterization is widely advocated as an effective bladder management strategy for patients with incomplete bladder emptying due to idiopathic or neurogenic bladder dysfunction. Urologic nurses are at the forefront of educating and teaching patients how to self-catheterize. Catheterizations performed in institutions, such as acute and rehabilitation hospitals and nursing homes, are done aseptically. Historically, however, intermittent catheterization has been performed by the patient in the home environment using a clean technique involving the re-use of catheters. New guidelines released in the past three years have recommended changes to the practice of re-using catheters. Currently, nurses use their clinical judgment to determine which technique and type of catheter to use, in conjunction with patient preference. Differential costs and insurance coverage of catheters/techniques may also influence decision making. The authors provide an overview of the indications, use, and complications associated with intermittent catheterization, present current guidelines on self-catheterization and treatment of catheter-associated complications, detail types of catheters, and review clinical practice of intermittent catheterization.