Tips On The Care Of Your Catheter Post Prostate Cancer Surgery

Posted on: 18 July 2016

When you have prostate cancer surgery, you will probably have a catheter fitted.  The catheter allows urine to drain away from your bladder into a bag that you wear strapped to your leg.  Once your surgical site has healed fully, you should be able to have your catheter removed, and you will once again be able to urinate in the normal way.

So, how do you cope with having a catheter?  Here are some simple care tips and some general information that you may find helpful.

Important catheter care tips

If you have a catheter fitted, you can be prone to contracting urine infections.  These can not only be painful, but can hamper your recovery from surgery.  Follow these tips to keep infection at bay.

  1. Before and after touching your catheter, always wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap.  
  2. When washing your genitals, always wash the area around the end of your penis in a downward direction.  This prevents bacteria from finding their way into your urethra and onwards into your bladder, where it could trigger an infection.  Always use mild, antibacterial soap or wipes for washing, and dry yourself thoroughly when you've finished.  
  3. Be sure to drink plenty of fresh water every day.  This helps to keep a flow of diluted urine passing out of your bladder, which is important in order to wash bacteria away and to keep the catheter working correctly.

Danger signs

If you experience any of the following symptoms while your catheter is in place, seek medical advice immediately, as these signs could be indicative of an infection or other serious problem:

  1. You feel that your bladder is full, but your catheter isn't draining any fluid.  
  2. The catheter starts to leak or comes out.  
  3. You notice that your urine has turned dark brown or red, smells strongly, or contains bloody clots.  
  4. The area around your wound appears swollen or red and becomes painful.  
  5. You have a temperature over 380C.  
  6. You begin to experience feelings of nausea, you have stomach cramps, or your lower legs feel painful or swollen.

After your catheter is removed

Your catheter should be removed about three weeks or so following your prostate cancer surgery.  This may be a little uncomfortable but should not be painful.

You may find that you 'leak' a small amount of urine once the catheter is removed; this is quite normal and is not a cause for concern.  It's a good idea to buy some incontinence pants to wear initially, just in case of accidents.  Take these and some spare undies and trousers with you when you attend for your appointment to have your catheter removed.

In conclusion

Having a catheter fitted is not a particularly pleasant experience, but it is a necessary part of your recovery following surgery for prostate cancer.  Follow the above tips, together with the advice of your medical team, to keep yourself infection-free for a speedy recovery.