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Why is my Catheter Leaking?

When you notice urine leaking around the catheter, rather than draining through it, this is known as bypassing. There can be a number of reasons why this is happening.

Bladder Spasms

Urosepsis signs and symptoms

Bladder spasms are strong, painful cramps caused by the bladder contracting and can be caused by infections, consuming too much caffeine or alcohol and irritation from your catheter, amongst others. Leakage, or catheter bypassing, may occur as the strength of these spasms force urine out. If your catheter leakage is accompanied by strong cramps/pain in your abdomen, speak to your healthcare professional to identify the root cause of the spasms.

Catheter Blockages

catheter blockages; encrustation; foley catheter; urinary catheter

A build up of minerals, sediment and crystallization of urine can cause the catheter channel or eyelets to become blocked. This will prevent urine draining through the catheter effectively. Where urine is retained in the bladder it can leak around the outside of the catheter. If you feel your catheter is blocked, speak to your healthcare professional as a regime of catheter maintenance solutions can be used to prevent the catheter blocking.


bacteria; UTI; Infection

A Urinarry Tract Infection (UTI) is another possible cause of catheter bypassing. Symptoms of a UTI include cloudy urine, lower tummy pains, a burning sensation when passing urine and sometimes a fever/general feeling of being unwell. Such infections can be treated with antibiotics but can cause complications if not treated, so it is important you seek medical advice should you think you have an infection.

Incorrect Charriere Size

catheter size; catheter bypassing; catheter leakages; foley catheter; urinary catheter

It could be possible that the leakage is being caused by the incorrect catheter charriere size. The charriere size relates to the outer diameter of the catheter; the bigger the charriere, the more the urethra is dilated. Using a catheter that is too big can be a cause of bypassing.


constipation; catheter bypassing; catheter leakage

If you become constipated the bowel can put pressure on the bladder, causing an obstruction to the catheter, and preventing the urine draining through. This can cause urine to be retained in the bladder, causing it to leak around the catheter.

If you are experiencing catheter bypassing (leakage) then speak to your healthcare professional who will be able to work with you to identify the cause. More information on Great Bear’s range of Catheters can be found here

Other Articles you may be Interested in:

What is a Suprapubic Catheter and How does it Work?

Introducing GB Cath Kit

Why is my Catheter Bag Purple?

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Why is my Catheter Leaking?