HomeDiseases and DisordersIncontinenceBladder Spasms and Foley Catheter Usage – Understanding and Prevention

bladder spasms foley catheterA foley catheter is very commonly used medical device used to treat all manners of incontinence. Unfortunately, for some users, bladder spasms from the use of a foley catheter may also be quite common. By its very nature, an indwelling catheter is invasive and has the potential to trigger a wide range of side effects, but keeping bladders spasms in check is still possible.

What Triggers a Bladder Spasm

The “sweet spot” for bladder spasms is the trigone area, which is a small triangular shaped spot at the base of the bladder. When this nerve packed area becomes irritated or stretched then it may trigger the detrusor muscle (the muscle which surrounds the bladder and allows for voiding) to contract violently and unexpectedly. These resultant spasms can be painful and make some people swear off the use of foley catheters totally. This does not have to happen. There are methods that can help an indwelling cath user cope.

Adjusting a Foley Catheter to Avoid Bladder Spasms

Keeping the catheter well away from the trigone area may help. The multiple lumen catheter has a balloon which is filled with water after insertion. If this balloon is too large it can stretch to fill the bladder and exert force against the trigone area. Likewise, it can also bump the area if the catheter is pulled upon to “seat” it after filling this balloon. By sliding the catheter backwards towards the patient this pressure can often be eliminated. A foley catheter with a smaller volume balloon may also be needed to keep the trigone area clear. The use of tape or Velcro straps on the thigh area may help hold the catheter into proper position and prevent it from slipping towards the trigone area. The diameter of the catheter is also important. If a too large gauge catheter is used this may also stretch the trigone patch and cause a spasm.

Treating a Bladder Spasm

If the use of a smaller balloon or smaller diameter catheter is still triggering bladder spasms then it may require a use of certain bladder medications, painkillers, or even suppositories. The advantages of a foley catheter for dealing with a wide range of problems from a weak urine stream to bladder leakage in females are so important that it is often the preferred method and every effort will be made to stifle the spasms. In the unlikely event that the bladder is continually subjected to painful spasms a male patient may have no choice but to switch to a condom catheter and a female can switch to an absorbent pad.  Bladder spasms after catheter removal are not impossible, but are far less likely to occur.

Bladder spasms for many people are an expected part of daily foley cath usage, but with a bit of trial-and-error the cause can often be determined and these problems kept to a minimum.

For more information on condom catheters – click here.

by Bob Parker

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