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Catheter Irrigation

There are two main reasons:

  1. To assess the patency of the catheter
  2. In an effort to prevent formation of urine stones. If need be, acetic acid, renacidin or Solution G (which contains citric acid, anhydrous sodium carbonate and magnesium oxide) are used for this purpose.

Necessary items for catheter irrigation

  • A syringe with a tip that fits into a catheter
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Disposable paper towels
  • Catheter clamp if using renacidin
  • A sterile urine receiving container
  • Solution for irrigation
  • Alcohol wipes for keeping the drainage tube end sterile in case it needs to be used again.

Catheter irrigation procedure

  • Have the aforementioned supplies at the ready.
  • Use towelettes or soap and water to wash your hands
  • Place disposable paper towels under the catheter system
  • By touching the outside part of the glass only, pick up the irrigating solution; measure 2 ounces and pour into the container.
  • Arrange the urine receiving container under the open catheter end for draining purposes.
  • Swab the catheter-drainage tube connection with the alcohol-infused cotton swabs.
  • Disconnect the catheter from the tube and put the tube away after covering its end while ensuring the catheter end does not come into contact with the urine receiving tray.
  • Withdraw just one ounce of the irrigating solution into the syringe, making sure to push out any residual out of it.
  • Insert the syringe into the end of the catheter. Apply gentle pressure on the syringe plunger and push the irrigation solution into the catheter and up into the bladder. If resistance is encountered during insertion, the catheter should be changed. Always avoid suction to the catheter while it is inserted as this may cause physical trauma to the bladder.
  • Grasp the catheter end with 2 fingers in a pinching position and gently apply pressure to pull out the syringe.

If using renacidin as the irrigating solution:

  • Ensure sterility of the solution
  • Drip the second ounce of the solution into the catheter and clamp it.
  • Un-clamp the catheter and allow to drain after 10 minutes
  • Drain the urine into receptacle
  • Repeat the process with the unused solution.
  • Swab the connector with cotton alcohol swabs and attach it back to the urine bag tubing.
  • Do away with the disposable items and wash the remaining supplies.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands.


  • Perform irrigation at the time of changing from a leg bag to a drainage bag. This is usually during bedtime and upon waking up in the morning.
  • If you do your catheter irrigation twice in a day, sterilize 2 irrigation sets at the same time.
  • It is much more affordable to prepare the irrigation solution on your own.
  • If you notice blood in urine, avoid irrigation solutions containing acetic acid. These include:
    • Renacidin
    • Solution G

Even during catheter irrigation procedure, a high degree of hygiene must be observed. It is also important to actively prevent inadvertently introducing air into the bladder.