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Indwelling urethral catheters are used for the long-term management of intractable urinary incontinence or bladder outlet obstruction with resultant retention of urine. There are welldescribed problems associated with their use including urinary tract infections and mechanical problems. Urinary tract infections have been well researched, however mechanical problems associated with blockage of the catheter lumen due to encrustation, leakage of urine and general discomfort, have been the least investigated. To date, there has been no research of patients’ views, understanding or feelings in relation to their catheters. This paper comprises a preliminary investigation of patients’ understanding and knowledge of their catheter's location and function, its acceptance, problems associated with its use, social implications and its subsequent management. Thirty-six patients from the community of one health district were surveyed. It was concluded that an indwelling catheter is a prosthesis which, to be successful, requires adequate patient education and management. Education of the patient and carers is particularly important since an understanding of the catheter and its function will lead to better acceptance of the device and will enable better management of the urine drainage system.