Hints and tips for night drainage

What is a night drainage system?

To avoid getting up in the night to empty your urostomy when sleeping, an extra capacity can be connected to the bottom of the pouch. This can come in the form of a ‘night bag’ or a ‘night drainage bottle’ depending on which manufacturer you use. Both drain the urine away from the stoma during the sleeping hours and allow undisrupted sleep with the rested assurance that the urine doesn’t travel back to the kidney.

Here are some hints and tips that I have experienced myself or heard from other urostomates:

  • The night bag can be hung on the side of the bed or put on a stand. Some urostomates prefer to put the night bag in a bin, basin or in some cases a cooler bag.
  • Sometimes urine may not drain due to an air lock. To avoid this when you connect your urostomy pouch to the night drainage leave a third of urine in the pouch. When you connect up squeeze the pouch to establish the urine to flow into the night bag and help to prevent airlock and vacuums.
  • If the urine fails to drain and the bag shrivels up causing a vacuum I sometimes disconnect and straighten the tube then reconnect back up which usually does the trick.
  • Manufacturers suggest that the night bag should be cleaned daily if it is not ‘single’ use only. This can be with a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water which is flushed through the tube into the night bag. You can open the tap and release the contents straight away but generally letting it sit for an hour is better practice. Then hang up the drainage tubing so it can air dry. A cap should then be put over the tubing or connector but If this doesn’t fit I actually put a disposable latex glove over it instead.
  • Drainable night bags or bottles should be changed 5 to 7 days being regarded as maximum. The question is not whether a bag looks fine and continues to function, but the chance of the bag being colonised by ecoli which will not be removed after rinsing even with household disinfectants. If the container and tubing starts to look cloudy or the colour has changed then you should replace the bag sooner.
  • It is advised to keep the tubing and night drainage below the level of the pouch when sleeping. Personally, I tend to connect up when I am in bed. I also make sure that my night bag is positioned on the stand halfway down the bed. The tube MUST NOT go ‘up-hill’ because gravity is needed for the urine to flow.
  • Some two-piece pouches will allow you to turn the pouch 90 degrees to the body. This eliminates any possibility of the tube getting tangled with the legs as the tube remains far away at mid body level.
  • To use different manufacture pouches and night bags, a connector can be connected to the night bag, therefore, enabling a proper fit. However If you do have trouble with the wrong connectors then in the past sometimes, I have put the tube in hot water before to make it soft and add the connector to it.
  • To avoid twisting at night whilst sleeping some urostomates wear an anti-twist strap that fastens the tube of the bag to the leg. Also, some manufacturers have extended tubing to enable more movement and anti-kink tubing.
  • I still have the occasional accident so I find mattress protectors are a god send and actually have a set of 3.
  • A flatpack night drainage stand is ideal for travelling.
  • A night bag in the car for emergencies can save all sorts of embarrassment if stuck in traffic jams.
  • When travelling long distances a leg bag can be attached to the pouch to add capacity and security.
  • When you get admitted to hospital remember to bring the connectors with you. It is very hard to find your specific connector and lack of awareness from the nursing staff can add to this.

By Rachel Jury