If your child is old enough to use a clean intermittent catheter by themselves, review this handout with them. Practice learning how to use the catheter together until your child feels confident to use it on their own.

What is clean intermittent catheterization?

Clean intermittent catheterization (CIC) is a way to completely empty the bladder throughout the day by using a catheter instead of emptying the bladder on your own. A catheter is a small, flexible plastic tube that is inserted through the urethra to empty the bladder. The urethra is the opening in which urine leaves the body. Once the catheter is in the bladder, urine will flow out and the bladder will empty.

CIC is used for people with medical conditions that prevent them from emptying the bladder on their own.

How often should my child use their catheter?

Your child’s care team will help you create a CIC schedule.

Why does my child need to follow a CIC schedule?

CIC is similar to how the bladder normally works. It must be done on a regular basis as prescribed by your child’s care team. Letting the bladder fill and then empty completely throughout the day increases the child’s chance of maintaining a healthy urinary tract system (system that creates urine and helps it leave the body, including the kidneys and bladder). An overfilled bladder may stretch and can cause issues such as urinary tract infections (UTI), urine leakage and, eventually, damage to the kidneys.

Are my child’s supplies covered under health insurance?

Please check with your health insurance company to see which supplies are covered (fully or partially paid for by the health insurance company). If your child has MassHealth, supplies are covered.

Signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI)

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common infection in which bacteria enters the urethra and causes an infection in the urinary tract. A UTI can develop in anyone, regardless of whether they use a CIC. Call your child’s care team if they have any of the following signs and symptoms of a UTI:

  • Fever greater than 101°F/38.3°C
  • Abdominal (belly area) or back pain
  • Pain or burning during use of the CIC
  • Less urine than usual during use of the CIC
  • Frequent need to urinate or catheterize
  • More leaking of urine than usual between uses of the CIC
  • Cloudy or hazy urine with a strong odor
  • Bloody urine

Rev. 8/2022. Mass General for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treat any medical conditions.