Several types of catheters are available. If a catheter cannot be inserted, suprapubic aspiration of the bladder How To Do Suprapubic Aspiration of the Bladder in a Child Suprapubic aspiration is obtaining a urine sample using a needle inserted into the bladder in the suprapubic region, typically to obtain an uncontaminated urine sample for culture. (See also... read more may be necessary. (See also Bladder Catheterization Bladder Catheterization Bladder catheterization is used to do the following: Obtain urine for examination Measure residual urine volume Relieve urinary retention or incontinence Deliver radiopaque contrast agents or... read more , How To Do Urethral Catheterization in a Female How To Do Urethral Catheterization in a Female Urethral catheterization is the standard method of accessing the urinary bladder. A flexible catheter is passed retrograde through the urethra into the bladder. Several types of catheters are... read more , and Urinary Tract Infection in Children Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in Children Urinary tract infection (UTI) is defined by ≥ 5 × 104 colonies/mL in a catheterized urine specimen or, in older children, by repeated voided specimens with ≥ 105 colonies/mL. In younger children... read more .)
Bladder catheterization can be done for diagnosis and/or treatment.
The main reason to insert a bladder catheter in female children is to
Collect a sterile urine sample for testing in very young children who cannot void on command
Less common reasons include
Instillation of a drug
Monitoring of urine output in certain hospitalized patients (indwelling catheter; not discussed here)
Suspected lower urinary tract disruption from recent trauma
In trauma patients, lower urinary tract disruption (suggested by perineal hematoma, bleeding from the meatus, or pelvic bone injury) should be ruled out by retrograde urethrography or vaginal examination (and sometimes cystoscopy) before doing bladder catheterization.
Known major abnormalities of the lower urinary tract
Prior urethral or bladder neck reconstruction
History of difficult catheter placement
Superficial urethral Urethral Trauma Urethral injuries usually occur in men. Most major urethral injuries are due to blunt trauma. Penetrating urethral trauma is less common, occurring mainly as a result of gunshot wounds, or,... read more or bladder injury Bladder Trauma External bladder injuries are caused by either blunt or penetrating trauma to the lower abdomen, pelvis, or perineum. Blunt trauma is the more common mechanism, usually by a sudden deceleration... read more with bleeding (common)
Creation of false passages
Bladder perforation (rare)
Sometimes prepackaged kits are available; if not, equipment required typically includes
Sterile drapes and gloves
An absorbent underpad
Antiseptic solution (eg, povidone iodine, chlorhexidine) with application sticks, cotton balls, or gauze pads
Sterile water-soluble lubricant (with or without 2% lidocaine)
Sterile cup for collecting urine specimen
Urethral catheter size varies with age: neonate (full term) to 6 months—5 to 6 French (Fr); infant or toddler—6 to 8 Fr; prepuberal child—10 to 12 Fr; adolescent—12 to 14 Fr
Washcloth for removing antiseptic solution after the procedure
Sterile technique is necessary to prevent a lower UTI Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in Children Urinary tract infection (UTI) is defined by ≥ 5 × 104 colonies/mL in a catheterized urine specimen or, in older children, by repeated voided specimens with ≥ 105 colonies/mL. In younger children... read more .
Ensure the patient is not allergic to latex or povidone iodine.
If doing multiple procedures, do bladder catheterization first, as the child may void during the other procedures.
The pediatric female anatomy is similar to the adult's, with a difference in size.
The female urethral meatus is the first opening below the clitoris and is located above the vaginal opening. It can be difficult to visualize if it appears closed. Also, young girls may have labial adhesions, which can make visualization of the meatus more difficult.
The urethra is short and straight and thus easy to catheterize.
Place the patient in a supine, frog position (hips and knees partially flexed, heels on the bed, hips comfortably abducted).
An assistant should hold the legs or knees.
Step-by-Step Description of Procedure
The in-and-out insertion of a catheter will be described here.
Allow one or both parents or caretakers to remain present to comfort the child. Having them hold the child's hand, provide a stuffed animal for the child to play with, or engage in other distraction techniques can help. Occasionally sedation is needed.
Place all equipment within easy reach on an uncontaminated sterile field on a bedside tray.
Open the prepackaged kit, taking care not to contaminate the contents.
Place the absorbent underpad with the plastic side down beneath the buttocks.
Remove diaper if present and clean the area with a wet washcloth using soap and water. Dry the area with a dry towel. Then wash your hands with soap and water.
Put on gloves using sterile technique.
Apply the sterile lubricant to the end of the catheter and place on the sterile field.
Saturate the application sticks, cotton balls, or gauze with antiseptic solution (eg, povidone iodine).
Place the sterile fenestrated drape over the pelvis so that the vulva is exposed.
With your nondominant hand, separate the labia to expose the meatus.
Cleanse the area around the meatus with each application stick, gauze pad, or cotton ball saturated in povidone iodine. Clean the area with an anterior-to-posterior motion. Discard or set aside the newly contaminated application stick, gauze pad, or cotton balls. If using povidone iodine, clean 3 times then allow the area to dry.
Hold the catheter in your dominant free hand. Separate the labia with your nondominant hand. If the meatus is difficult to see, gently pull the vaginal introitus mucosa downward.
Advance the catheter gently through the urethra just until urine is obtained. Do not poke repeatedly or force the catheter. Urine should flow freely.
If the catheter has entered the vagina, leave that catheter in place as a landmark and obtain another catheter.
Collect urine in the specimen container. If the volume is insufficient, gently massage the lower abdomen over the bladder (suprapubic area).
Remove the catheter by pulling out gently.
Remove all remaining povidone iodine with a wet washcloth.
Remove the drapes.
Warnings and Common Errors
To prevent causing a UTI Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in Children Urinary tract infection (UTI) is defined by ≥ 5 × 104 colonies/mL in a catheterized urine specimen or, in older children, by repeated voided specimens with ≥ 105 colonies/mL. In younger children... read more , maintain strict sterile technique during the procedure.
To prevent causing blind passages and urethral injury, do not use excessive force during insertion.
Tips and Tricks
Do not proceed with continued attempts at catheter placement if significant resistance is met or if the catheter feels as if it is buckling inside and not advancing.
If the catheter appears to be in the correct position but urine does not return, lubricant may be obstructing the drainage of urine. With the catheter held in the current position, flush the catheter with normal saline to dislodge the lubricant and see if urine returns prior to proceeding with the remaining steps.
If the catheter appears to be in the correct position but urine does not return and there is the possibility of anuria due to dehydration, consider providing hydration (appropriate to the patient's clinical condition) before the procedure is attempted again.
Consult a urologist for any issues with catheter placement or guidance on catheter size and style in select clinical scenarios. In certain situations where a catheter cannot be placed, a suprapubic percutaneous aspiration may be indicated.