What is a Catheter Plug?

Isopropyl alcohol, which can be used to clean the catheter plug.

The catheter plug is a small, cylinder-shaped piece of plastic that is inserted into the urinary bladder catheter drainage tube, also called a Foley catheter. Inserting a catheter plug into the opening of the drainage tube prevents urine from leaking out of the Foley catheter. The tampon is used on occasions when the urine drainage bag may need to be removed, such as during bathing, showering, and some physical activities. Many plugs feature grooves on the surface of the plug that allow the patient to hold the plug more securely for easier installation and removal of the small plastic part. Some are packaged with a separate cap to protect the drainage tube and urine collection bag, while other plugs have an integrated design that allows them to function as a plug or cap.

A urinary catheter.

Most catheter plugs are designed to be used only once and cannot be sterilized between uses. A type of catheter plug can be soaked in an isopropyl alcohol solution while the bladder is drained into the urine collection bag. Some plugs can simply be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol and reinserted into the catheter drainage tube during daily use. A catheter plug should never be used on more than one patient to avoid the risk of bacterial contamination from one patient to another.

Treatment for some forms of bladder cancer may involve the use of a catheter.

The simplest catheter plug is a small latex-free plastic cone. It comes with a plastic cap that protects the shape of the plug when it is not in use. A cap can be used to cover the end of the tube connecting to the drainage bag when it is disconnected from the Foley catheter.

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A simple design catheter plug is also cone-shaped. Small plastic grooves are located on top of the plug. It is individually packaged in a removable wrapper to allow the patient or caregiver to quickly open and cap the drainage tube.

A plug may be inserted into the exposed end of a urinary catheter to prevent drainage.

Another type is shaped like a cone with a tapered end. The entire surface of this plug is covered with grooves that allow the patient or healthcare professional to easily grip the plug. The raised areas on the plug also provide the user with the ability to remove the plug with more control, which can alleviate some of the momentary discomfort a person may experience when the plug is removed and urine can drain from the bladder.

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