A bladder instillation uses a catheter to deliver medication through the urethra and into the bladder. A smaller pediatric catheter is often used to minimize discomfort. “Hydrophilic” catheters (i.e. such as the AstraTech Lo Fric catheter) are generally easier to insert and remove than dry catheters because they have a slippery coating which makes them easier to insert and remove. Learning to self catheterize is very easy and shouldn’t be feared. Self-cathing can ease discomfort in patients who struggle with urinary retention and can also be used to perform instillations at home.

IC patients have shared some tips that have made catheterization easier.

  1. Latex catheters should be avoided by anyone with a latex allergies.
  2. Sensitive patients have reported that non-latex catheters have burned less than latex catheters.
  3. Size matters. Smaller catheters, such as a pediatric 8Fr, may avoid stretching the bladder but will also require more time for the medication to drain through. Some patients report that a 12Fr catheter is an ideal compromise, still fairly small yet allowing for a speedier treatment.
  4. Cleanliness is vital to reduce the risk of developing a bladder infection. Follow the instructions provided by the nurse who trained you. Use a sterile, disposable catheter rather than reusing old ones. Shower before you catheterize using, if you can tolerate it, a mild, hypoallergenic soap such as Basis. Harsh soaps can cause more vulvar discomfort in patients with vulvodynia.
  5. The heat from a shower will also relax muscles which also makes the insertion of a catheter easier.
  6. After you have emptied your bladder, rinse well with warm water to reduce any irritation on your skin from the medication.

(Our gratitude to ICN Member Kadi for sharing the above tips!)