Intermittent urethral self-catheterisation: long term results (bacteriological evolution, continence, acceptance, complications)

Paraplegia. 1991 May;29(4):222-32. doi: 10.1038/sc.1991.33.


Forty six (9%) out of 520 patients from the years 1976 to 1982 who used intermittent urethral self-catheterisation (IUSC) as the method of bladder drainage at the moment of discharge from the Swiss Paraplegic Centre of Basel were analysed during their rehabilitation period, on discharge, 3, 6 months later and again 5 years later regarding bacteriological changes and urinary tract infections, behaviour of some problem germs such as Proteus, Klebsiella and Pseudomonas, sterile versus clean catheterisation, catheterisation frequency, complications, continence and acceptance of this method. Only 22 patients continue IUSC, 5 have died, 6 use indwelling catheters and 13 are voiding their neurogenic bladder with other methods. Average time on IUSC was 6.6 years (0.5-13 years) in the women's group and 4.6 years (0.5-12 years) in the men's group. Of the remaining 22 patients on IUSC, 23% have sterile urines, 36.5% are infected with E. coli and Enterococci, 4.5% with Staphylococci and the remaining 36% still show the problem germs Pseudomonas (4.5%), Proteus (13.5%) and Klebsiella (18%), but there was a reduction from 19 cases with problem germs in 1983 to 11 cases in 1988. In 1988 5% women and 4% men changed from sterile to clean IUSC (2 out of 11 men using the same catheter for at least 1 week and 2 out of 10 women). The complication rate was astonishingly low during IUSC: being only 4.3% (2 male patients, one with stricture of the urethra and epididymitis, one with autonomous dysreflexia with bladder overdistension). No anti-cholinergic or alpha-stimulating agents were used nor continuous antibiotic-prophylaxis and only in one female patient was a bladder denervation procedure performed. No deterioration of the upper urinary tract was observed. The degree of continence remained stable throughout the follow-up, and the same applies to the acceptance of IUSC. The authors conclude that IUSC can be of great help in neuropathic bladder rehabilitation provided that the patients are properly selected, motivated and well instructed and followed throughout the years.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Self Care*
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / complications
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / therapy
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / therapy
  • Time Factors
  • Urinary Catheterization* / adverse effects
  • Urinary Incontinence / physiopathology
  • Urinary Incontinence / therapy*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / etiology*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / microbiology