Irrigation of continent catheterizable ileal pouches: tap water can replace sterile solutions because it is safe, easy, and economical

Eur Urol. 2011 Apr;59(4):518-23. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2011.01.003. Epub 2011 Jan 12.


Background: Continent catheterizable ileal pouches require regular irrigations to reduce the risk of bacteriuria and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Objective: Our aim was to compare the UTI rate, patient friendliness, and costs of standard sterile irrigation versus irrigation with tap water.

Design, setting, and participants: Twenty-three patients participated in a prospective randomized two-arm crossover single-center trial. Aseptic intermittent self-catheterization (ISC) combined with sterile sodium chloride (NaCl) 0.9% irrigation was compared with clean ISC and irrigation with tap water (H(2)O) during two study periods of 90 d each.

Intervention: Patients underwent daily pouch irrigations with NaCl 0.9% solution or tap water.

Measurements: Urine nitrite dipstick tests were evaluated daily; urine culture (UC) and patient friendliness were evaluated monthly. Costs were documented.

Results and limitations: A total of 3916 study days with nitrite testing and irrigation were analyzed, 1876 (48%) in the NaCl arm and 2040 (52%) in the H(2)O arm. In the NaCl arm, 418 study days (22%) with nitrite-positive dipsticks were recorded, 219 d (11%) in the H(2)O arm, significantly fewer (p=0.01). Of the 149 UCs, 96 (64%) were positive, 48 in each arm, revealing a total of 16 different germs. All patients preferred the H(2)O method. Monthly costs were up to 20 times lower in the H(2)O arm.

Conclusions: Pouch irrigation with sterile NaCl 0.9% solution and tap water had comparable rates of positive UC. Irrigation with tap water significantly lowered the incidence of nitrite-positive study days and was substantially less costly and more patient friendly than NaCl irrigation. We therefore recommend the use of tap water (or bottled water) instead of sterile NaCl 0.9% solution for daily irrigation of continent catheterizable ileal pouches.

Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12610000618055,

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Infective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Colonic Pouches*
  • Cost Savings
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imines
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitrites / urine
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pyridines / administration & dosage
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Care / economics
  • Self Care / methods
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Therapeutic Irrigation / economics
  • Therapeutic Irrigation / methods*
  • Urinary Catheterization / economics
  • Urinary Catheterization / methods*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Urinary Tract Infections / prevention & control*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / urine
  • Water Supply*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Imines
  • Nitrites
  • Pyridines
  • Sodium Chloride
  • octenidine