Intermittent catheterization and recurrent urinary tract infection in spinal cord injury

Top Spinal Cord Inj Rehabil. 2012 Spring;18(2):187-92. doi: 10.1310/sci1802-187.


Purpose: To study the association of recurrent symptomatic urinary tract infections (UTIs) with the long-term use of clean intermittent catheterization (CIC) for the management of neurogenic bladder in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Methods: Retrospective study of 61 SCI patients with neurogenic bladder managed by CIC. Subjects were selected from 210 SCI patients seen at the Yale Urology Medical Group between 2000 and 2010. Medical UTI prophylaxis (PRx) with oral antimicrobials or methenamine/ascorbic acid was used to identify patients with recurrent UTI. The number of positive cultures (≥10(3) cfu/mL) within a year prior to starting PRx was used to confirm the recurrence of UTI.

Results: Fifty-one male and 10 female subjects were managed with CIC. Forty-one (67%) subjects were placed on medical PRx for symptomatic recurrent UTI. Seventeen (28%) subjects had at least 3 positive cultures within the year prior to starting PRx. Fifteen of 20 (75%) subjects not on PRx had no complaints of UTI symptoms in the final year of follow-up.

Conclusion: Recurrent symptomatic UTIs remain a major complication of long-term CIC in SCI patients. Although CIC is believed to have the fewest number of complications, many SCI patients managed with long-term CIC are started on medical PRx early in the course of management. Future studies are needed to determine the efficacy of routine UTI PRx in these patients as well as determine what factors influence why many patients on CIC experience frequent infections and others do not.

Keywords: UTI prophylaxis; bladder management; clean intermittent catheterization; neurogenic bladder; spinal cord injury; symptomatic urinary tract infections.