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Catheters - Horrible or ok?

I'm having an ALIF in just a few days, and of all the things to be worried about, I'm terrified of getting a catheter! Just the thought of tubes and stuff... down there.... makes me really nervous.

For those of you who have gotten surgery, and had a catheter put in, was the experience okay? Will I not even notice it? Does it hurt? Any advice is definitely appreciated.


  • Whith my PLIF they put it in when I was already under. It wasn't pleasant but when I woke up one of my legs was numb and I couldn't walk. I think I used it till I was up and walking (2-3 days).

    I also had one when my daughter was born. They put it in when I was awake. It was very unpleasant to say the least.

    Hopefully it will be put in when your under. It was weird to have it, but honestly I was so out of it I needed it.

    Good luck,


  • There have been several similar posts in the past, started by people who are worried about having a catheter. :O

    It seems that they are generally put in once you are unconcious and that it makes your first day or so after surgery much easier. Lots of people worry about having them taken out, but most say that it is not as bad as they feared. Often the comment is made that you will be glad that you had one!

    Well, I didn't have one after my lumbar fusion and I wished, during the first day, that I did have one!
    I was told that the reason they didn't use one was that it was another possibility of introducing infection.

    Believe me, trying to lift myself off the bed for the nurse to slide a bedpan under me was no joke just hours after my surgery. Then, I found it impossible to 'go' lying down. It was quite a few hours and feeling very uncomfortable before I was able to go.

    I wouldn't worry too much about it. There will be other things that you will be focussed on!! @)
  • Thank you guys for the responses! I've heard that they get you up and walking pretty soon afterward. I'm wondering if I'll have to walk with it in? That just seems super unpleasant.
  • I had one when I had my son because of the epidural. I don't even remember noticing it, and I really don't recall it being uncomfortable to take out!

    Discomfort wise, I suspect that's going to be the least of our worries after surgery ;)
  • I had one with my ALIF. They told me they were putting it in right as they were starting to put me under, so I really didn't feel anything. they removed it in the recovery room, and I really did not feel anything at that time either. I got up, with help, and walked to the bathroom later that afternoon.
    Hope all goes well for both of you!
  • The first day, you will be glad you have it, cause you wont want to get up immedieatly after surgery and after all the IV's, if you dont have one, you will have to use bedpan YUK and HURT. I have had them many times, and they are not even really noticeable. So , dont worry, no big deal. Focus on the positive, getting better! Good Luck!
  • Thankfully, I did not have to use the bedpan!
  • Yes, they will probably get you out of bed the second day, but just for a short (few step) walk with the catheter (and probably IV) in. No big deal.

  • I had it for about 4 days after my PLIF. I thought I'd hate it, but come to find out ya need it. I got to tell ya, before surgery I told my family that "I ain't wearing no damn hospital gown that shows off my business and I ain't gettin' no damn catheter"

    After surgery the hospital gown was the farthest thing from my mind! I am pretty sure the gown was all pulled up around my neck and my mom and sisters saw whatever there was so see. I couldn't have cared less right then. I don't even think I knew I had the catheter for a couple days!

    Don't worry 'bout the cath..it's really no biggie and you'll find it quite helpful when you don't feel like getting out of bed.

  • Really in the whole scheme of everything - this is no biggie. The "trick" when they put it in or remove if you are awake is to take a deep breath in while they are doing it. ;)

    Walking around with it is no biggie either.
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • I had one for 2 days ! And they put it in when I was under , I'm glad I had it as it was one probelm less. Taking it out wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I had to laugh as I thought I had aged overnight with a wee bag and a zimmer frame !!!!
  • Ok, so I was terrified.
    When I blew out my disc, I had to give in to taking a ride in an ambulance (which I was also terrified of) b/c I couldn't get up to use the bathroom. Each time I stood up, I would almost pass out.

    I got over the ambulance ride and at the hospital, still couldn't get up or even use bed pan. They were quite worried that my nerves were impacted. They finally said they had to put a catheter in. My biggest fear. But, by that point, I said whatever b/c I had to go so bad.

    Honestly, aside from the momentary humility, it wasn't that bad and I forgot I had it in after they drugged me. Then removed it and it wasnt' bad either. I only had it in for abou 5 hours.

    It will be the least of your worries.

    NOTE: I had a male nurse who was kind enough to ask me...do you prefer a female do this? I told him yes, if you don't mind.
  • I had a catheter in for the entire 6 days I was in the hospital after my fusion. I am glad I had it..I had horrible 'cotton mouth' from the meds and drank a ton of water.also had a few days of nausea and vomiting which left me dry. The CNA actually asked me if I was on a diuretic because my bag kept filling up. I was worried it would hurt when they pulled it out, but it didn't. I was happy I had a cath in!!!

  • I was so thankful to have one after my recent spinal fusion surgery. I also had cotton mouth and drank plenty of water. The PT just hooked it on her pants and grabbed my IV pole and off we went. I got it out on the third day with no pain whatsoever. The only problems I have had is getting my bladder regulated. You really have to concentrate on going for a few times afterwards.

    Take Care,
  • two reasons for the catheter. 1) To monitor how your kidneys are funcitioning in the operating room, and to maintain hemostatis, which is fluid and blood volume. 2) most people have enough trouble just getting up at first, and have urinary hesitance due to the immobility and narcotics that are given.

    It is absolutely necessary for a lumbar fusion, and hardly noticeable.

    Good luck,

  • Hi,

    I just went thru this last week and I promise it is not as bad as it sounds. They place it while you are under. At first I couldn't wait for them to remove this then I wish they would have left it in because it hurts so bed getting in and out of bed.

    When it was removed they asked I take a deep breath and it was over.

    Trust us it's better on then not.

    Good luck. You will do just fine. Just make sure they provide pain meds that actually work!
  • I was asked if I was having a hard time urinating....Thank goodness I was flowing fine. I too had the hibeejeebeez of having a catheter. I think it's a lot easier for men than us chicks...of course I could be wrong.
  • I also had a cath that was inserted during the surgery. I had it taken out when they took my pain pump the next day. I was worried about feeling it in and the removal. I never really noticed it while it was in and the removal was nothing. Hope this helps. Traci
  • I have had quite a few catheters put in for surgerys, they aren't that bad. I do believe that for men they hurt a bit. If you don't get very nervous, and get tightened up, you will be fine :)
  • They are a blessing for the first few hours post-op; your asleep when they put them in so you don't care, I always had to think to make myself still pee though - its best to get them out as soon as you can walk because they can cause problems with infections if left in too long.. I had one bad experienced but I won't share...
  • You will be thankful you had one, and they do put it in when you are out. I couldn't even get up at all till the next day, and they were really pushing the water through i.v., so I was glad for the catheter.
    When they take it out just take a deep breath, and it's out. I had so much morphine it didn't matter anyway. The main focus will be controlling your pain.
  • Thanks everyone for responding!!! You were all right! I was glad I had it in. They put it in when I was under, and I think I had it in for 2 days. I was so out of it, that I really didn't care about it at all.

    My only problem: Very early the first morning, I had to call for the nurse because I felt a lot of pressure like I had to pee, and I had the catheter in. I guess there was a kink in the tube and the pee was getting backed up. She unkinked the tube, and I saw her carry away 2 hat-shaped buckets of wee to the bathroom. Once she emptied everything out, I felt very relieved! Kinda gross, but as I said, I was so drugged, I didn't stress about it too much.

    When they took it out, it wasn't too bad, and it was very quick.
  • I don't like them either but Ive had a few through the 5 surgeries ive undergone over the years. its better than using a pee bottle, or screaming help ans waiting for assistance to get your achey bones to the bathroom after surgery. unpleasant yes, but very necessary. Only pain I noticed from the cath was during its removal, and thats not bad either.

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