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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.

Figure 1 shows a full bladder with many bacteria (in green) and stone crystals (in grey.) A catheter is placed into the bladder to empty it. (Click on any figure to enlarge it.)

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Fig. 1

Steps of Bladder Irrigation

Step 1:

Catheterize as you normally would to empty the bladder.

 

Figure 2 shows that after you catheterize, the bladder will be almost entirely empty of urine, and some of the bacteria and crystals will have drained out while some will remain.

Step 2: 

Fill a container with tap water. The container does not need to be sterile, nor does the water. (Fig. 3)

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Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Step 3:

Draw water up into a 60cc 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. (Fig. 4)

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Fig. 4

Step 4:

Squirt a second syringe into the bladder. Each time you squirt water in, do it with force. Your goal is to create a “snow globe” effect where the rush of the water into the bladder washes the sediment off the floor of the bladder and brings it into the center of the bladder where you can more easily suck it out. (Fig. 5) 

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Fig. 5

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. (Fig. 6)

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Fig. 6

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. (Fig. 7)  

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Fig. 7

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