What you can expect when having your catheter removed

There might come a time where you’re told that your catheter is going to be removed. When this rolls around, your continence nurse might mention something called trial without catheter, or TWOC for short...

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This is done to make sure that you’ll be able to pass urine properly without your catheter inserted. Generally, catheters should only remain in place as long as they are actually needed as the risk of infection actually increases by a staggering 5% each day it stays in! The good thing about having your catheter removed (besides the catheter-free life, of course)? You won’t need to be admitted to hospital to have it taken out. It’s a super quick procedure and you likely just need a quick appointment either on a main ward or in the outpatient department.


Prior to your catheter removal

Always follow any guidance given to you from your continence nurse or doctor. You should usually be able to eat and drink normally beforehand. Once your catheter has been removed, you’ll be monitored closely by a healthcare professional to ensure that you’re able to empty your bladder properly without your catheter inserted. This can take a little while, so you might want to bring a good book to your appointment to pass the time!


During your catheter removal

The healthcare professional in charge of removing your catheter will explain the procedure to you and you can ask any questions you might have during this conversation. When the catheter is removed, you’ll likely be in a lying down position as the procedure is happening. The nurse removing your catheter will start by deflating the little balloon that’s been holding your catheter in your bladder. This is something you probably won’t be able to feel – very much like you couldn’t feel it when the balloon was inflated upon insertion of your catheter. When the balloon is fully deflated, your catheter will be removed which can feel a little uncomfortable. Don’t worry, though, it’ll be over in about 5 seconds; this is how long the removal of a catheter takes on average.


Tips on urinating after your catheter has been removed

Once your catheter has been successfully removed, your nurse or doctor will want to know if you’re able to pass urine without it. You’ll likely be asked to drink regularly to help fill up your bladder and the urine you pass will be measured. Make sure that you don’t drink too much in a short space of time or gulp your drinks as this can have an impact on your ability to pass urine. You might also get a bladder scan done to make sure it’s fully emptied after you’ve gone for a pee. You don’t need to worry about getting your bladder scanned, though, as this is not very invasive and similar to having an ultrasound done when you’re pregnant. The scanner will be placed on your lower abdomen and the nurse will be able to see whether your bladder is empty after you’ve been to the toilet. If there’s any urine left, this is called residual urine.


Things you should mention to your nurse

If you experience any of the following symptoms after having your catheter removed, make sure to mention them to a healthcare professional:

  • Going to the toilet very frequently
  • Only passing small amounts of urine every time you go to the toilet
  • Pain in your lower abdomen
  • Having difficulty starting to pee (this is called hesitancy)
  • Feeling like your bladder is full and you’re unable to empty it properly
  • Being in pain when peeing (this is called dysuria)

These symptoms could mean that you’re suffering from urinary retention. If you’re developing symptoms while you’re still in the hospital, let your nurse or doctor know straight away. If you start showing symptoms when you’re back at home, ring your GP, district nurse, or out of hours service if it’s very uncomfortable. Don’t wait too long before getting in touch – acute urinary retention is a serious condition and the sooner you’re examined by a medical professional, the sooner you can receive treatment for it.