This article describes a 3-Way Foley catheter, it's uses and abuses. 3-Way catheters are often used after prostate gland surgery to help remove blood clots from the urinary bladder. They may also be used for the treatment and management of simple hematuria following disease or trauma.

A Catheter is a highly specialized medical device to facilitate the removal of urine or blood from the urinary bladder. Their use is often abused by athletes for the purpose of inserting someone else's urine into their own bladder to fool the authorities into believing that the urine is their own. Three way Foley Catheters are made of latex (red rubber) or silastic, an engineered plastic.

A picture of a 3-way Foley Catheter is shown below. The three openings are clearly visible. The opening on the top is for the urine and blood to drain out. It is apparent that this is the lumen which is most straight to facilitate the urine and clotted blood to flow out. The lumen just below the number (23) is for the entry of fluid which is to be used for draining the bladder. The third lumen is the smallest of the three lumens. It is for injecting a liquid or air into the balloon at the distal end of the Foley catheter. It is the balloon which prevents the Foley Catheter from slipping out because the inflated balloon is too large to pass through the urethra.

This type of catheter is often inserted in the operating theater following a procedure called Trans-Urethral Resection of the prostate, a problem of the prostate gland in older men.

Enlargement of the encapsulated prostate gland causes pressure on the urethra. This pressure results in urinary retention, urine obstruction and/or overflow. Other procedures which may be used to relieve this extreme discomfort include trans-urethral incision of the prostate, insertion of a supra-pubic catheter, insertion of a simple Foley catheter and radical prostectomy. All these procedures must be performed in adequately equipped treatment hospitals with the support of Registered Nurses. These procedures must be performed by duly qualified Doctors and surgeons.

The insertion of a 3-way catheter and the insertion of a simple Foley catheter are sterile procedures. These too must be done by duly trained Registered Nurses and Doctors. In some counties Male Registered Nurses are not allowed to catheterize female patients. In others Female Registered Nurses are not allowed to catheterize male patients. The important point here is the duly qualified professional staff must follow the policy of the institution which employs them.

Urinary tract infection, trauma, stricture formation and urethral irritation are the most common complications of this procedure.