Indication of Catheterization for Intermittent Catheters (IC)

Intermittent catheterization (IC) can be indicated as a treatment for voiding problems due to disturbances or injuries to the nervous system, non-neurogenic bladder dysfunction, or intravesical obstruction with incomplete bladder emptying.

Common Complications

Intermittent catheterization should be performed in the presence of a residual urine volume and symptoms or complications arising from this residual volume of urine.

Common complications caused by a large residual urine volume includes:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Bladder calculi
  • Renal failure
  • Patient discomfort
  • Incontinence
  • Lower urinary tract symptoms (frequency, urgency or night time voiding)

Recommendation for Neurogenic Bladder

Lower urinary tract symptoms of neurogenic bladder include either UI or incomplete bladder emptying and urinary retention caused by outlet obstruction, poor detrusor contraction, or compliance.

A common cause of a neurogenic bladder is spinal cord injury.  The use of intermittent catheterization in this population has eliminated many complications associated with an indwelling urinary catheter.

Advantages of Intermittent Catheterization

Advantages of intermittent catheterization over an indwelling urinary catheter include:

  • Improved self-care and independence
  • Reduced risk of common indwelling catheter-associated complications
  • Reduced need for equipment (such as drainage bags)
  • Fewer barriers to intimacy and sexual activities
  • Potential for reduced lower urinary tract symptoms (frequency, urgency, incontinence) between catheterizations

Author: Gina B. Carithers


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Last Updated: February 1, 2020  

Written by: Diane K. Newman, DNP, ANP-BC, FAAN