A catheter leg bag is a vinyl or latex pouch that is worn on the thigh or calf to collect urine. It is used in conjunction with a male external catheter or a Foley catheter. If you plan on wearing the leg bag on your thigh, it can be connected directly to the end of the catheter. If you want to wear it on your calf, extension tubing will need to be used to connect the end of the catheter to the bag.
No, a catheter leg bag is meant to be worn during the day while you are up and moving. It cannot be worn while laying down because urine will not properly flow into the drainage bag. Laying in a horizontal position while wearing a leg bag can cause urine to flow back up the tubing and may damage skin.
Generally, a catheter leg bag should be changed every 7 days. You may need to change it sooner, especially if you notice any odor or the bag leaks. Whether you use a reusable or disposable leg bag, is important to consistently clean your catheter bag to avoid buildup.
If you prefer wearing your catheter bag when showering, be sure to dry off your bag, tubing, and straps thoroughly afterward. Leaving the wet supplies against your skin can lead to skin damage. However, it is not necessary to wear a leg bag while you shower. If you do not wear a leg bag during your shower, urine will simply flow down the drain.
Catheter bags are available in disposable and reusable styles. Disposable leg bags are usually made from clear vinyl. They typically last one to two weeks before needing to be thrown away. A reusable leg bag is made of thicker material and is more durable. They can be used for up to six months if well taken care of. If you have a latex allergy, be sure to use a vinyl catheter bag to avoid skin irritation. Whether you choose a reusable or disposable leg bag, it will need to be cleaned regularly with a urinary appliance cleanser such as Urolux. Doing so prevents odors and buildup and will help your catheter bag perform at its best.
In order to keep your leg bag secure and in the proper position, a cloth sleeve or catheter leg straps can be used. The cloth sleeve goes around your calf or thigh and has a pocket on the side that the leg bag slips into. There is a small hole cut out at the bottom of the pocket that gives you full access to the drainage valve on your leg bag. This prevents you from having to take the bag out of the sleeve in order to empty it. The other option to hold your leg bag in place is a pair of leg bag straps. One strap goes around the top of the bag and the other goes near the bottom of the bag. They can be made out of fabric, latex, or vinyl. The straps have buttons or velcro closures that secure the bag. Some urinary leg bags come with straps or you can purchase them separately. The style of leg bag holder you use comes down to personal preference.
When your leg bag becomes about halfway full, you will need to empty it. Catheter leg bags have a spout at the bottom that allows you to drain the bag without having to remove the bag from your body. There are several drain valve styles available, such as a twist style, flip style, or a slide-tap style. With a twist valve, you will rotate the drain port to empty the bag. A flip valve has a lever that you pull up to empty and push down to close. A slide-tap valve has a horizontal piece that you push to one side to open and the other way to close. The flip valve and slide tap valve tend to work well for people with limited dexterity.
Before you lay down or go to sleep, you will need to switch from a catheter leg bag to an overnight urine bag. Urine cannot properly drain into a leg bag while laying down. It can cause urine to flow back up the tubing, which could lead to infection or skin damage. An overnight bag is a large capacity bag that prevents you from having to get up in the middle of the night to empty it. Many night bags have a hook or a tie to secure it to a catheter night bag stand for easy accessibility. It is important that the bag is positioned below the level of your bladder. Most overnight urine bags come with extra long tubing that allows you to move during the night without pulling on the bag or the catheter.