Variability in catheter microwave sterilization techniques in a single clinic population

J Urol. 2002 Aug;168(2):562-4.


Purpose: We designed a survey to assess the microwave sterilization technique practiced by patients at our clinic who perform clean intermittent catheterization.

Materials and methods: A 23-question survey addressing urinary catheter use and home sterilization techniques was mailed to 129 patients. A followup survey was mailed to 47 respondents who reported using a microwave oven to sterilize the catheters to assess the microwave technique further.

Results: Of the 129 initial surveys 84 (64%) were returned, while 40 (85%) of the 47 followup questionnaires on microwave sterilization were returned. All patients surveyed have used clean intermittent catheterization for at least 1 year and 75% have used it more than 5 years. Of the respondents 80% perform clean intermittent catheterization 4 to 5 times daily, although sterilization frequency varies from daily to less than once weekly. Of the respondents 71% reported no difficulty with microwave sterilization, although 31 (63%) reported a history of catheter melting during microwaving. Of the respondents 35% reported using a rotation table, all used a heat sink containing 1/2 to 4 cups of water, 39% used 500 to 1,000 W., 37% used greater than 1,000 W., 73% set the microwave for 6 minutes, others set it for 3 to 30 minutes and 98% used a power setting described as high, full, 10 or 100%.

Conclusions: Significant variation exists in the cleaning and sterilizing techniques used by our patients, although they were given uniform written and verbal instructions. It is unclear from the data in the literature how this variation affects sterilization.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care
  • Equipment Reuse
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Microwaves*
  • Self Care
  • Sterilization / methods*
  • Urinary Catheterization / instrumentation*