Objectives: To evaluate the current practice of the diagnostic workup in The Netherlands and the clinical relevancy of the outcome of various diagnostic procedures in young women referred for recurrent lower urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Methods: A questionnaire was sent to all urologic departments in The Netherlands (n = 104) inquiring about the diagnostic procedures used for recurrent lower UTIs. Furthermore, we performed a prospective study in 100 consecutive young female patients (18 to 40 years old) referred for evaluation of recurrent lower UTIs. All patients underwent a standardized workup: questionnaire, voiding diary, physical examination, urinalysis and culture, abdominal x-ray with ultrasound or intravenous urography, and cystoscopy.
Results: The response rate to the questionnaires was 92%. The standard procedures were laboratory blood tests in 56%, cystoscopy in 69%, plain abdominal x-ray in 91%, and abdominal ultrasound in 59%. Only 18% of the urologists asked every patient to make a voided urine frequency volume chart. In our group of patients, the radiologic procedures revealed only one relevant abnormality. Cystoscopy confirmed cystitis in 22 patients, but never revealed relevant findings. None of these diagnostic procedures ever contributed to the diagnosis. The 24-hour urine output was less than 1.5 L in 43 patients, which was considered insufficient. The individual self-reports of fluid intake were unreliable.
Conclusions: Many Dutch urologists perform an extensive routine workup in patients referred for recurrent lower UTIs. The results of our study revealed that the yield of most diagnostic procedures in these patients is low. The focus in evaluating these patients should be directed toward the behavioral aspects. Thus, the routine workup can be restricted to a voiding diary, urinalysis, and urine culture.