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Trial of void

Critical information about the catheter removal process.

You might need a catheter fitted for several reasons, including bladder weakness and nerve damage. We share critical information about what to expect from catheter removal (the process of removing a catheter from your bladder). This process is straightforward and should not be painful.

What is a catheter?

A urinary catheter is a soft, flexible tube that is inserted into your bladder, allowing it to drain urine into a drainage bag. It is mostly used when people have difficulty going to the toilet naturally.

How does a catheter work?

A catheter works by draining urine from the bladder. It is usually inserted into your bladder through your urethra, or through a hole in your tummy and then into your bladder. Urine flows from your bladder through the catheter (tube) and into a drainage bag that is either attached to your leg or on a stand on the ground beside you.  

There are several types of urinary catheters, including: 

Intermittent urinary catheters: these are inserted and removed several times throughout the day to drain your bladder at intermittent periods. You should be taught how to insert this type of catheter yourself. Your Consultant will make sure you understand this process before you do it. 

Indwelling urinary catheters
: this catheter is inserted through your urethra and left in place. Urine is drained through the catheter and into a draining bag. This catheter can either be attached to the inside of your leg or placed on the floor. 

Suprapubic catheters:
this catheter is also left in place. However, rather than being inserted through your urethra, this catheter is inserted through a hole in your tummy and then into your bladder. This is used when your urethra is damaged or blocked. 

This process will differ depending on which type of catheter you are fitted.  

If you have either an indwelling or suprapubic catheter, it will be removed by your Consultant. 

They will begin the process by asking you to lie in a supine position (horizontal and facing upward) so that catheter removal is accessible. 

They will then likely drain your catheter bag to prevent any spillage of urine during removal. 

They will then ask you to breath in and out slowly as they remove the catheter. 

This shouldn’t be painful, but you might experience some discomfort. If you have to remove your catheter by yourself, your Consultant will talk you through this process step-by-step to ensure you do it the right way.

The removal process doesn’t take long. It can usually be done in under a minute. 

Catheters for men (male catheters) are generally longer than those for women (female catheters), so these may take slightly longer to remove, but only marginally so. 

Again, the process should not be painful, but might cause slight discomfort.

Your bladder and urethra will likely be weak for a couple of days after your catheter is removed. 

There are some potential risks associated with having a urinary catheter. These include:

Urinary retention after catheter removal

This can occur after having a catheter. Urinary retention happens when you cannot empty your bladder. It can cause mild to severe discomfort. 

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) after catheter removal

UTIs caused by using a catheter are one of the most common types of infection that affect people staying in hospital. This is because a catheter can sometimes allow bacteria to enter your body. 

This risk is particularly high if your catheter is left in place (an indwelling catheter). 

Tips to urinate after catheter removal

You might benefit from bladder training after a catheter removal. This is usually to help with future urge incontinence or urinary retention.  

The aim of bladder retraining is to teach your bladder to hold more urine, meaning you will go to the toilet less often and pass more urine each time. 

If you have an issue emptying your bladder or would like to know more information about our extensive urology services, including bladder retraining, you can call us on 0141 300 5009 or book online.

Specialists Offering Trial of void

Mr Giles Hellawell

Consultant Urological Surgeon

DM, BM BCh, FRCS(Urol)

BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital

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Mr Raj D R Gowda

Consultant Urological Surgeon

MBBS MS, DNB (General surgery), FRCS (Surgery in General) FRCS (Urology)

BMI Woodlands Hospital

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Mr Gaurav Mukerji

Consultant Urological Surgeon

MBBS, MS[Surgery], FRCS[Surgery], MD[Research], FRCS[Urology], FEBU

BMI Bishops Wood Hospital 1 more BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital

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Mr Malachy Gleeson

Consultant Urologist

LRCP & SI, MBBCh, BAO, FRCSI, MCh, FRCS (Urol)

BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital

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Mr Vincent Tang

Consultant Urologist

MBBS, MRCS(Eng), MSc, DIC, PGCert Med Ed, FRCS(Urol)

BMI The Alexandra Hospital

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Prof Ghulam Nabi

Consultant Urologist

MS, MD, MCh, FRCS (Urol)

BMI Dundee Outpatient Centre 1 more BMI Kings Park Hospital

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