What is a Leg Bag Catheter?

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  • Written By: Lucinda Reynolds
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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A leg bag catheter is a thin, rubber tube used to drain urine from the bladder. This tube is inserted in the bladder and then attached to a drainage bag that is secured to the leg. A leg bag catheter is very discreet because it can be worn under clothing. There are several reasons why an individual may require a Foley catheter and leg bag.

Individuals who suffer from constant leakage of urine or who are unable to control urination can benefit from a leg bag catheter. Some individuals may have trouble with urinary retention and may need a Foley catheter to keep the bladder drained. Certain types of surgery, such as prostate or gynecological surgery, can make it necessary to wear a Foley catheter for a short period of time.

Foley catheters come in various sizes. The smallest-diameter catheter is almost always used to avoid unnecessary stretching of the urethra. On occasion, if the urine is bloody or has a lot of sediment in it, a larger-diameter catheter will be inserted. This is necessary to promote drainage and to keep the catheter tube from becoming blocked.


The leg bag catheter is typically only worn during the daytime hours. The standard leg bag usually comes in two sizes. The smaller size can hold 18.90 ounces (550 ml) of urine and the larger size can hold 30.43 ounces (900 ml) of urine. The leg bag is usually taken off and the urine tubing is connected to a larger drainage bag for night time use.

It is important the leg bag catheter stay below the level of the bladder to keep expelled urine from re-entering the urethra. This can cause infection. The leg bag catheter should be emptied at least every eight hours, if not more often, to prevent overfilling. This can be accomplished easily by sitting on the toilet and opening the drainage port on the bottom of the bag.

An individual who is wearing a Foley catheter and leg bag must practice good catheter care to prevent an infection. Catheter care includes washing the hands thoroughly before and after handling the catheter. Washing around the catheter insertion site and the catheter tubing with a mild soap is very important. The individual should also drink plenty of water to help prevent urinary tract infections.

Once the need for the leg bag catheter is over it can easily be removed. This may be done by a health care professional. An empty syringe is screwed onto a port that extends from the side of the catheter tubing. Water is then extracted from the balloon that held the catheter in place in the bladder. The tubing is then pulled out through the urethra and discarded.


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