Biofilms and catheter-associated urinary tract infections

Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2003 Jun;17(2):411-32. doi: 10.1016/s0891-5520(03)00011-4.


Urinary catheter-related infections are commonly seen in several different patient populations and lead to substantial morbidity. The overall health care costs caused by these infections are sizable given how often urinary catheters are used in acute care settings, extended care facilities, and in persons with injured spinal cords. Recent attention has appropriately focused on biofilm development on the catheter surface because biofilm has important implications for the pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention of catheter-related infection. Because the most important risk factor for infection is duration of catheterization, indwelling urethral catheterization should be avoided or at least limited whenever possible. Additional methods to prevent this infection include aseptic insertion and maintenance use of a closed drainage system, anti-infective catheters in patients at high-risk for infection, and systemic antibiotics in select patients. Alternative urinary collection strategies may be appropriate in certain patient groups. Specifically, condom catheters should be considered in men likely to be adherent with this urinary collection method, suprapubic catheters should be considered in patients requiring long-term indwelling drainage, and intermittent catheterization seems appropriate in patients with injured spinal cords. Future research should focus on additional methods for preventing this common infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms*
  • Catheters, Indwelling / adverse effects*
  • Catheters, Indwelling / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Urinary Catheterization / adverse effects*
  • Urinary Tract / microbiology
  • Urinary Tract / pathology
  • Urinary Tract Infections / etiology*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / microbiology*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / prevention & control
  • Urinary Tract Infections / therapy