Thursday, April 15, 2021


If your physician recommends a trial of becoming Catheter-free:


You may be taught ways to trigger voiding. Some methods to stimulate urination are tapping yourself in the area over your bladder, stroking your thighs, and pulling pubic hairs. Your doctor may suggest a trial with these methods to find the one which works best for you.


Most people with a spinal cord injury don’t have normal control of urination even when they empty their bladder well. Men usually wear an external condom collecting device, called an external catheter. As yet, there is no external device for women, so they usually wear waterproof panties with liners.

External Catheters – An external catheter is a device that collects urine after it is outside the body. It helps to keep you dry. There are many kinds on the market; be sure the one you use is best and safest for you. You will also need Elastikon tape and scissors, soapy washcloths, wet washcloths, and a towel. Change the external catheter daily to prevent skin irritation. There are two methods of applying an external catheter:

To apply with tape:

  1. Wash entire genital area well with soap and water. Retract foreskin and wash well, rinse and dry well; bacteria tend to collect here.

  2. Check the skin of the penis for redness or abrasions. Allow skin to air. Skin prep applied to penis will protect it from moisture.

  3. If uncircumcised, pull the foreskin toward the head of the penis. This prevents the tourniquet effect which can cause swelling, sores, and possibly gangrene.

  4. Roll the external catheter upward until the entire penis is covered (make sure there is at least two inches between the head of the penis and the end of the condom).

  5. Place a pre-cut piece of Elastikon tape around the external catheter directly below the rolled edge at the top of the external.

  6. Wrap tape around the penis so that tape ends meet and stick together. Do not overlap tape. This allows for penile erection and proper circulation. Do not stretch tape tightly.

  7. Clip ring at the top of the condom to prevent tourniquet effect. Some external catheters stay better if the tape is spiraled (your nurse will demonstrate).

  8. Connect the external catheter to the drainage bag.

To apply with adhesive:

  1. Follow the first 3 steps of applying with tape. Then apply tincture of benzoin or skin cement to help keep external on. It is a good idea to clip pubic hairs around the base of the penis.
  2. To contain the adhesive, make a drape from a paper towel by tearing a small hole in the center and placing it over the penis.
  3. Spray the shaft of the penis with adhesive. Let it dry until tacky (about 30 seconds) then continue with steps 4-8 for applying the external catheter with tape.


  • If you have trouble keeping an external in place, use skin prep to adhesive or (if you use tape before rolling condom on. Skin prep also protects skin.
  • If you use a Taxas catheter, save the plastic pieces. You can make your own external catheter using the pieces and a condom.
  • Check the external frequently to be sure it is draining freely and is not on too tight. Call your doctor if a sore deeper than top layer of skin occurs on penis, or if you cannot apply external below sore.
  • If an irritation or a sore occurs from an external catheter, you may be able to apply the external catheter below the sore, or you may need to leave the external catheter off for a few days until the sore heals.

The following figures demonstrate two types of external catheters, as well as two ways of applying the tape.

Waterproof Panties – If waterproof (incontinent) panties are used:

  • Wash the skin well and dry thoroughly before putting in fresh liners. Be sure to wash and change liners frequently.
  • If any skin soreness occurs from the urine, air your skin as much as possible.


Some patients learn how to stay comfortably dry by timing their intake of fluids with urinating. For example, drinking less liquid before going out decreases the amount of urinating while you are out. It takes times to experiment with drinking liquids to learn how long it takes for the bladder to fill so that you can stay dry.


PoinTIS Copyright © 1998 the Louis Calder Memorial Library of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, all rights reserved.

- Advertisment -

Must Read

The Miami Project Research Video Library

The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis now offers a video library with access to our updated lectures recorded throughout the academic season. As part...