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Bladder Irrigation 

Procedure to prevent bladder infections and bladder stones

Purpose of bladder irrigation: People who do self-catheterization to empty their bladder can collect mucous, stone crystals, or bacteria in their bladder. This can result in bladder infections and bladder stones. Bladder irrigation can help wash out any of this foreign matter to prevent complications.

The bladder is full with many bacteria (in green) and stone crystals (in grey.)



Step 1: Place a catheter into the bladder to empty it. 

After emptying, some crystals and bacteria will remain in the bladder, mostly pooling at the bottom of the bladder. 

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Step 2: Fill a container with tap water. The container does not need to be sterile, nor does the water. 

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Step 3: Draw water up into a 60mL catheter-tipped syringe. Squirt the water into the bladder. The syringe does not need to be sterile, just clean. You can use the same syringe for at least a month as long as you clean it with dilute vinegar between uses (1 part white table vinegar to 20 parts tap water).

Step 4: Squirt a 2nd syringe-full of water into the bladder (a total of about 120mL in the bladder).

Snow Globe Technique. Squirt the water with a lot of force so that you stir up the bacteria and the crystals sitting on the floor of the bladder. The catheter sits in the middle of the bladder; so, you will never get the bacteria and the crystals into the catheter if you don't get them off the floor and into the center of the bladder. 

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Step 5: Now that you have 2 syringe-fulls in the bladder, suck one syringe-full out. This leaves one syringe-full in the bladder. Squirt out the syringeful of dirty irrigation fluid into a basin or the sink or toilet. In the illustration, note the bacteria and crystals going into the syringe.

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Step 6: Keep repeating this process of putting one syringe-full in and sucking one syringe-full out, always leaving at least 60mL in the bladder. Leaving the 60mL in the bladder helps keep the catheter from sucking up against the bladder wall when you pull on the syringe because that can be painful (sort of like a vacuum sucking on a curtain).


You should repeat this process for at least a total of 300mL in the bladder; but if the irrigation fluid still appears cloudy when coming out of the bladder, then keep doing more. 

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