During surgery a small tube or catheter is put into the bladder through the penis so that urine can be drained into a collecting bag. This is usually done while the patient is anesthetised, so nothing is felt at that stage. To prevent blood clots blocking the catheter, bladder irrigation may also be used.
After a transurethral resection the catheter is usually removed before the patient goes home from hospital. After a radical prostatectomy the catheter is usually left in place for one to two weeks, to allow the bladder and urethra to heal. Thus, men who have a radical prostatectomy usually manage their catheters at home for a while and then return to hospital to have them removed.
During brachytherapy men may have a catheter while the radioactive seeds are being implanted. The catheter is removed at the end of the procedure.
Occasionally, men with prostate cancer find they have long term urinary incontinence, so they may have to live with a permanent catheter, which is usually changed every two to three months.
Also see 'Urinary incontinence'.
Last reviewed August 2012.
Last updated August 2012.