For Men, Catheter Type Makes A Huge Difference In Urinary Infection Risk

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2006-07-02 21:32

The Urinary Catheter

It's one of the things about a hospital stay that men loathe, and that infectious bacteria love: the urinary catheter. Now, a new study shows that a less-unpleasant option for male hospital patients is also a much safer one.

In fact, men whose urine was collected with an external or "condom" catheter during their hospital stay had an 80 percent reduction in the risk of urinary tract infection (UTI) or death as compared with men whose urine was collected with the usual "indwelling" catheter, the research shows. The condom catheters were also far more likely to be seen as comfortable and non-painful.

In the first-ever randomized, controlled trial comparing the two types of catheters, that striking difference in infection and death risk was seen in men who didn't have dementia and didn't need an indwelling catheter for medical reasons. Other men, and all women, should continue to use indwelling catheters, the researchers say.

But since UTIs are the most common kind of infection to strike patients in the hospital and can lead to fevers and prolonged hospital stays, the results may have tremendous implications, say the researchers from the University of Michigan Health System and the VA hospitals in Seattle and Ann Arbor, Mich. They are publishing their results in the July issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

"This is one of the bread-and-butter issues that adversely affects the safety of many hospitalized patients, and that will affect more of us as the population continues to age," says lead author Sanjay Saint, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Patient Safety Enhancement Program and an associate professor of general medicine at the U-M Medical School. "It has implications for many hospitalized patients, 25 percent of whom use catheters, but also for patients in nursing homes and at home."

Saint and his colleagues carried out the trial at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, where it took several years to find a sufficient number of men willing to be randomly assigned to either type of catheter who also met all of the study's criteria. Saint began the project during his Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars fellowship at the University of Washington, working with senior author Benjamin Lipsky, M.D.

In all, 75 men met the study's enrollment criteria, with 41 receiving an indwelling catheter and the rest receiving one of five sizes of a silicone condom catheter. Their health status was tracked for up to 30 days, including regular testing of their urine for bacteria (a pre-UTI condition called bacteriuria) and monitoring for signs of UTI. The men completed questionnaires about discomfort and other feelings related to their catheter.

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