Foley catheter

The Foley catheter is a urinary catheter with a balloon at its distal tip, which is inflated post-insertion to ensure that the catheter remains in the bladder. Originally inflation of the balloon required the instillation of fluid or air via a separate port, next to the external end of the catheter, but modern catheters have a built-in reservoir which can be used to inflate the balloon.


Insertion of a Foley catheter is a common procedure, but still caries risks of complications, either during insertion or after 4, including:

  • traumatic insertion
    • pain
    • stricture
    • hemorrhage
    • creation of false passage
  • malposition
    • urethral placement
    • ureteric placement (rare)
      • increased risk in neurogenic bladder, long-term catheterization, intra-operative placement, undistended bladder or non-routine catherisation (e.g. during guide-wire assisted insertion (Blitz Technique) or micro-tip catheter insertion during cystometry) 5 
    • false passage placement
    • vaginal placement
  • urinary tract infection
  • catheter fragment retention

History and etymology

The American urologist Frederic EB Foley (1891-1966) 3 first provided details of his now eponymous "hemostatic bag catheter" in an article in 1929, although in a later paper stated he had developed it in 1927 1,2. It was originally introduced as a way of controlling perioperative and postoperative hemorrhage during and after a cystoscopic prostatectomy. He continued to refine it and in an article in 1937 described his improved "self-retaining bag catheter" 2.

Article information

rID: 64983
System: Urogenital
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Foley urinary catheters
  • Foley catheters
  • Foley urinary catheter

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