A Foley catheter is really nothing more than a flexible tube passed through the urethra to the bladder. The catheter creates a safe draining system to allow urine to pass through. A Foley catheter is often used when a patient is comatose, paralyzed, seriously injured, has an enlarged prostate, or is experiencing other incontinence issues. While the primary function of a catheter is to allow the drainage of urine from the bladder, there are many medical situations in which a Foley catheter can function as a very unique medical tool.
There are several different subsets of Foley catheters that are designed to provide solutions to special medical conditions. For example, if a man has an enlarged prostate that is obstructing the bladder, a regular catheter may not be easily inserted to solve the problem. This is when physicians will use a Coudé Foley catheter. Coudé is French for “elbow”, and the catheter is aptly named because it has a 45-degree bend to allow an easier passage around the enlarged prostate.
Once this patient has surgery on his enlarged prostate, he will then need a Foley 3-way, or triple lumen, catheter. This is a catheter that has three openings. The third opening allows the introduction of a sterile fluid in order to wash away any blood or blood clots from the area. This catheter is designed to help physicians easily clean the bladder or prostate area after surgery.
Another very unique and special way in which Foley catheters are used is during the induction of labor for pregnant women. The catheters are typically held into place in the bladder with the help of a small balloon. That same balloon can be used to place pressure on a woman’s cervix. The cervix reacts as if the pressure created by the balloon is the pressure that would be created by the baby’s head. In response to this pressure, the cervix will become dilated suitable for labor.
Many people underestimate the value of the Foley catheter. As evidenced by medical news every day, the Foley catheter can be a very versatile medical tool. This catheter not only provides solutions for injured and ill people who cannot use the restroom regularly, but it also keeps patients clean and safe after surgery and can even aid in the miracle of childbirth. The world of medicine is constantly advancing, and the Foley catheter is advancing along with it.