Bladder catheterisation is a routine part of major abdominal surgery. Transurethral catheterisation is the most common method of bladder drainage but is also notorious for its discomfort and increased risk of urinary tract infection. The present study aimed to establish patient satisfaction with transurethral catheterisation and to assess the incidence of clinically significant urinary tract infections after transurethral catheterisation through survey.All patients who underwent major open abdominal surgery between October 2006 and December 2008 and required standard transurethral bladder catheterisation, were asked to participate in the study. Fifty patients were recruited.Male patients were more dissatisfied than their female counterparts with transurethral catheterisation (satisfaction score: 4.18/10 vs. 2.75/10; p = 0.05). Male patients had more than double the score for pain at the urinary meatus with the catheter in situ (p =0.012) and during urine catheter removal (p = 0.013). Half the patients in the study also had symptoms of urinary tract infection after catheter removal.Our study emphasised the discomfort of transurethral urinary catheters, especially in male patients, and the high incidence of urinary tract infections in both sexes. Consideration should be given to the utilisation of alternative methods of bladder drainage, such as suprapubic catheterisation, which can be performed with ease during laparotomy.