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Old Jan 18, 12, 8:01 pm   #1
 
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Fly with Foley catheter / leg bag?

Not sure if this is the right forum, so please move as appropriate, mods.

I have a catheter in and it looks like I'll have it for a month maybe until surgery happens. During that time I have two trips scheduled, both domestic US. I'm getting used to wearing the bag and trying to determine how much I can live "life as normal" during this period. So I'd love to hear of any experience people have, both TSA as well as personal comfort while flying with a cath.
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Old Jan 18, 12, 8:16 pm   #2
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1. TSA is a non-issue. They deal with medical equiptment everyday thousands of times.

2. But, are you certain that your MD will clear you for flying at altitude w. a catheter? Generally speaking, your doc. should talk with the carrier's medical staff. It may well be that flying is a very bad idea.
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Old Jan 18, 12, 8:32 pm   #3
 
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Today my urologist said he didn't see an issue with it. I don't see how it would be a problem - it's not a pressurized system and we all urinate just fine in flight - but it may be that it causes discomfort in a way which would be known only by one who's been there.
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Old Jan 20, 12, 10:13 am   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
1. TSA is a non-issue. They deal with medical equiptment everyday thousands of times.

2. But, are you certain that your MD will clear you for flying at altitude w. a catheter? Generally speaking, your doc. should talk with the carrier's medical staff. It may well be that flying is a very bad idea.
1. You're going to have to advocate for yourself here. While TSA's in theory deal with medical equipment all the time, they can be remarkably callous. Request that the pat down be done in the private area BEFORE they start patting you down (unless you're cool with the TSA exposing your leg bag for all to see which you might be). In theory, they should offer this option but it's pretty hit or miss.

2. Flying with a catheter is no problem whatsoever. I don't personally have a foley (I do intermittent caths) but a few girls on my team do, and they are perfectly fine. In fact, they've kind of got the best deal because they don't have to deal with transferring into the tiny bathrooms/ aisle chairs in flight etc. Many, many paras and quads fly with foleys all the time. Just make sure that there isn't a kink in anywhere when you sit down if you plan on being in one spot for a while.

You'll be fine. Just remember to hydrate well so the risk of infection isn't increased - but that's standard foley info, not specific to flying. Safe travels!
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Old Feb 6, 12, 9:00 pm   #5
 
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To update on my own post.

Actual flight with the cath was a non event. I wish I'd had a window seat I did get up to stretch and empty my bag a few times.

Outbound, went through WTMD, no issue. Return, went through the scanner. I told them before I went that I had a cath/bag. They sent me through anyway. The remote screener clearly saw the bag and guessed what it was as they asked me if I had one on the far side. The screening consisted of me touching my pants (on the outside) where my bag was, getting hands swiped, and then chemical sniffed. Except for about 5 minutes wait for this step, the process was painless. No pat down. Oh I had emptied the bag before going through least I be accused of carrying more than 3 oz of liquids

I'll be doing it again in a few weeks.
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Old Jun 26, 13, 8:37 am   #6
 
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Leg Bag Expansion?

I have a Foley catheter and leg bag as it sounds like several of you do.
I need to fly on business and I am wondering how the leg bag responds to the increase (and decrease) in cabin altitude as the airplane climbs and descends. I have visions of it popping but that may not be the case, so I am wondering how you all have handled it. Are there any special techniques or tricks you use to make it all work?

Certainly appreciate the good advice in this thread.

Thanks, Jim
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Old Jun 26, 13, 10:46 am   #7
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There are pressure changes, but fluids do not respond much to the pressure changes due to the density of the fluids - not very compressible, unlike air. That's why you will see a partly emptied water bottle scrunch up and deform - the air, not the water.

An easy way to think of air pressure changes is to think of sea level, where on a normal 59 F / 15 C temperature at sea level: 14.696 psi, or one atmosphere or one bar of pressure. Diving into sea water, that changes very quickly - every 10 meters / 33 feet we double that and at 33 feet we experience two atmospheres of pressure (29.4 psi).

Visually, take a balloon filled with water down there and - no major changes in size due to compression / expansion; take a balloon with air down there, it's about half size now.

Go on a commercial flight - the cabin pressure is maintained to a maximum elevation of 8,000 feet MSL / 2,400 m even if you are flying at 39,000 feet, so now we have less than one atmosphere of pressure - 10.9 psi, or .74 bar or .74 atmospheres of pressure, or 74% what it is at sea level.

A balloon filled with water or similar liquid will experience no changes, the balloon with air will expand, by about 25%.

So - a urinary catheter bag filled with liquid will have a very slight expansion, probably not noticeable to the user. If the cath bag has liquid and a lot of air, prepare for significant expansion of the air in the bag due to the lower surrounding pressure, which could make things uncomfortable to say the least as it might push air up the catheter. On descent, the cath bag with significant air would compress / get smaller, not such a huge deal but possibly still an inconvenience because then it would provide some vacuum to the catheter.

That's not really the long version - I'd have to get more technical!


Quote:
Originally Posted by jrbecker16 View Post
I have a Foley catheter and leg bag as it sounds like several of you do.
I need to fly on business and I am wondering how the leg bag responds to the increase (and decrease) in cabin altitude as the airplane climbs and descends. I have visions of it popping but that may not be the case, so I am wondering how you all have handled it. Are there any special techniques or tricks you use to make it all work?

Certainly appreciate the good advice in this thread.

Thanks, Jim
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Old Jun 26, 13, 5:00 pm   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
There are pressure changes, but fluids do not respond much to the pressure changes due to the density of the fluids - not very compressible, unlike air. That's why you will see a partly emptied water bottle scrunch up and deform - the air, not the water.

An easy way to think of air pressure changes is to think of sea level, where on a normal 59 F / 15 C temperature at sea level: 14.696 psi, or one atmosphere or one bar of pressure. Diving into sea water, that changes very quickly - every 10 meters / 33 feet we double that and at 33 feet we experience two atmospheres of pressure (29.4 psi).

Visually, take a balloon filled with water down there and - no major changes in size due to compression / expansion; take a balloon with air down there, it's about half size now.

Go on a commercial flight - the cabin pressure is maintained to a maximum elevation of 8,000 feet MSL / 2,400 m even if you are flying at 39,000 feet, so now we have less than one atmosphere of pressure - 10.9 psi, or .74 bar or .74 atmospheres of pressure, or 74% what it is at sea level.

A balloon filled with water or similar liquid will experience no changes, the balloon with air will expand, by about 25%.

So - a urinary catheter bag filled with liquid will have a very slight expansion, probably not noticeable to the user. If the cath bag has liquid and a lot of air, prepare for significant expansion of the air in the bag due to the lower surrounding pressure, which could make things uncomfortable to say the least as it might push air up the catheter. On descent, the cath bag with significant air would compress / get smaller, not such a huge deal but possibly still an inconvenience because then it would provide some vacuum to the catheter.

That's not really the long version - I'd have to get more technical!
That's interesting, but if the plane is pressurized then there won't be much effect of the bag. Right?
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Old Jun 27, 13, 6:58 pm   #9
 
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From personal experience: no problem. You can even take the window seat as you won't have to get up to use the lav

When you empty your bag, you open the valve on the bottom and the water flows out. What's left is not a vacuum, but the bag does not open up and take in a lot of air; it's mostly just an empty bag. Then you close the valve (it sure sucks when you forget this step! ) and basically have an empty bag. It gradually fills with urine while you fly - the liquid isn't going to change much in volume. So worries about pressurization, etc. seem ill founded. In fact I took a number of flights with my Foley and had no trouble (eventually I had prostate surgery and no longer needed it).

One thing to note, however, is that the hose from your genitals to the bag has to be oriented properly as it's only gravity flow which drains your bladder. Be wary of kinks in the hose due to the cramped sitting on planes and make sure that the bag is below your bladder at least some of the time.

Of course if the bag fills just go to the lav and empty it.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your flights
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Old Jul 12, 13, 3:06 pm   #10
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Well, what I mean is the plane is pressurized, but to an altitude of under 8,000 feet of comparable elevation - if you have air in the bag, it's a balloon and it will inflate; if you have nothing or liquid, (or solids in an ostomy bag) the air pressure differential should have minimal effect on the cath bag. Air is pretty compressible, water and stuff that is mostly water is not very compressible.

(Nest time you fly, try this: take an empty plastic or similar water bottle on a flight and see what happens - as you ascend it will be come rigid and try to expand; if you drink the water from a bottle and leave it closed on descent, the bottle will collapse - only when there is air, as when there is liquid there's just not that much difference.)

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Originally Posted by DeafFlyer View Post
That's interesting, but if the plane is pressurized then there won't be much effect of the bag. Right?
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Old Jul 13, 13, 8:17 am   #11
 
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As I said above, though the leg bag is not at vacuum, it is such a small amount of air in it that the pressure differential is really not relevant.
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Old Aug 2, 13, 3:33 pm   #12
 
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I am a little confused...

I am flying transatlantic with my 6 year old son, who was cleared for travelling and has a catheder for the next three weeks. Do I have to put liquid in the urine bag to not have air fill it or do I not have to worry about the bag at all ?..


QUOTE=MojaveFlyer;21089725]As I said above, though the leg bag is not at vacuum, it is such a small amount of air in it that the pressure differential is really not relevant.[/quote]
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Old Aug 3, 13, 3:31 pm   #13
 
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You don't have to do anything special at all. Empty the bag normally; you'll probably want to do this before the flight just because it's easier in a bigger toilet. When the bag is empty, it's, well, empty - there is a little air in it but no significant amount (if in doubt, just press it a bit with the drain valve open, then close the valve). That's it.

When you're flying, just deal with the bag as you normally do. As I said above, though, you might want to monitor his position a bit as it's easy to get the bag and tube twisted (if it's a leg bag anyway) so it's not draining well. All that means is that the urine doesn't drain from the bladder, and will do so rapidly when the tube is unkinked.

Have a good flight and don't worry (much) about it

A 6 year old probably won't be going through the body scanner so they won't even know he has a bag at security. That's nice.
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