Intermittent catheterization with hydrophilic catheters as a treatment of chronic neurogenic urinary retention

Neurourol Urodyn. 2011 Jan;30(1):21-31. doi: 10.1002/nau.20929. Epub 2010 Oct 6.


Aims: Neurogenic bladder can be effectively managed with intermittent catheterization (IC) to improve or restore continence, but there is no consensus on which type of catheter is preferred. Hydrophilic catheters were developed to reduce urethral friction, thereby minimizing trauma and sticking, and making them more acceptable to the patient, and easier and safer to use. The objective of this article was to review the literature on the benefits of hydrophilic catheters in patients with neurogenic bladder.

Methods: A large body of experimental and observational evidence, including randomized controlled trials, was identified using PubMed.

Results: Compared with plastic catheters that have been manually lubricated with gel, hydrophilic catheters reduce urinary tract infection and microhematuria. Hydrophilic catheters are also associated with high levels of patient satisfaction because they are comfortable to use.

Conclusions: There is a wealth of evidence, including randomized controlled trials, to support the benefits of hydrophilic catheters in terms of safety and quality of life, especially in men with spinal cord injury. More data are required for spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, and in women. Further research is warranted, especially large-scale and long-term robust comparisons of different types of catheter, and in well-defined and stratified populations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hematuria / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Quality of Life
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic / etiology
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic / therapy*
  • Urinary Catheterization* / adverse effects
  • Urinary Catheterization* / instrumentation
  • Urinary Retention / etiology
  • Urinary Retention / therapy*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / prevention & control