Self help - Catheter blockage

The following might not be relevant if the difficulty has mostly been resolved by conventional means. And it could be, if valid, impractical for many immobile catheter patients. I have tested the following for the past 4 weeks and it seems to be conclusive:

After despairing with increasingly frequent catheter blockages and call-outs, with pain, I decided to dispense with the leg bag. Instead I cannibalised a valve (sterilised) and attached it to the catheter end. As a result -

urine is clear at all times (no clogging);
reduced fluids’ intake (from ~4 to 2 litres daily);
general health has improved; and
I can again have urine function like a normal person.

Personal details – Age 78; height 1.82 m; weight 72 kg; working fulltime; daily exercise 3 - 4 miles; no alcohol consumption or smoking for 12 and 5 years respectively

In effect, the volume of debris accumulating in a leg bag was very visible and blockages were more frequent. Consequently call-outs could be fortnightly. General health was deteriorating and a marked difference to the first year of use (commencing October 2015). Results after making the decision were immediate.

I plan to submit my results to the local NHS after 12 weeks.

My husband had a catheter for a few months a few years ago along with a leg bag. When I was moaning about how annoying, leaky etc he found it to my sister (a nurse) she said get him a tap from whoever supplies his bags. I rang them up and they sent taps instead of bags. Wow !!! The difference was immediate for him. Also he got used to the feeling of having a full bladder again. The difference in his day to day life and confidence was amazing and he started going to his allotment again.

For the moment it is important to get the message out there. I find it remarkable the catheter replacement procedure is so mechanical without expert recommendations from local district nurses. They in turn are rushed off their feet attending to emergency calls.

Protocol is standard, i.e. proceed according to the book, My big anxiety has always been adding to the cost on NHS resources. It’s taken me 5 years to reach a logical answer. Cross referencing is now needed with as many readers/victims who trawl the forum. If the findings are good we can save the state a bit of cash.

Thanks for the first response.

Update to 03/02/21 posts

Nearly 12 weeks have elapsed since the last catheter blockage. In that time I can confirm no further complications have arisen. It therefore seems that a flip tap is a way forward to avoiding sediment accumulation for many of us.

No saline washouts have been carried out in that time. Only one concession has been made, i.e. a 2-litre bag is attached at night from 11pm until 7am the following morning.

It is noted, however, that I have some bladder discomfort when doing heavy manual work. It could be due to reduced fluid intake. Working hours have been reduced to 18 hours/week owing to age. By quitting completely the step should eliminate the one difficulty.

In sum an indwelling Foley catheter was first inserted in October 2015. There were no complications during the first 18 months, Blockages occurred with increasing frequency thereafter. On two occasions, at least, catheters were replaced within 10 - 12 days. General health seemed to be impacted.

I shall update when necessary.

Thanks David for your update, I’m sure it will help others.


PS are you going to retire?

Nope, Melly. Shall keep going for as long as possible. Having a handicap should not be an excuse to hang up one’s boots.

We read about serious defects and reverses that I find quite disturbing. After all, in the normal course of events organs invariably start failing. Age range is in fact irrelevant. Weaknesses can present at any time. In sum, a simple healthy diet is paramount. And I do question some of my past habits.

Well good for you David.

I know quite a few people (admittedly younger than you) who have officially retired but then gone back to work, albeit on a part time basis.

Eating well and keeping active are key.


A slight alteration to 23/03/21 post

For those who continue to carry out heavy manual work each day, it is recommended liquids’ intake is maintained, i.e. 3 litres water per day. The habit will become more important when the weather warms up.

I note some bladder discomfort when reducing volume. There have not been any difficulties when doing desk work.

An experiment -

By way of trial I elected to postpone catheter replacement for 20 weeks (8 January - 27 May 2021).
No effects or symptoms occurred in that time.
Only one saline flush was undertaken.
The catheter type was a #14 silicone model.
Except for night time a flip valve was used throughout.

One small difficulty has been tiredness, possibly a result of ageing, and I have reduced heavy work to 6 hours per day maximum. I may continue after 80 but will base decision on state of health.

Other patients can express their views as they will be useful to catheter users.