For continuous urethral catheterization (CUC), the estimated daily risk of acquisition of bacteriuria is 3% to 8%1-3. For intermittent urethral catheterization (IUC), the incidence of bacteriuria is 1% to 3% per insertion4. The Infectious Diseases Society of America recommends that IUC should be considered as an alternative to short-term CUC to reduce catheter-associated bacteriuria or UTI based on “poor evidence” (Category C) and, as relates to symptomatic UTIs, without properly designed randomized-controlled studies2.
A Cochrane systematic review of CUC vs IUC in hospitalized patients failed to find any significant differences between the 2 interventions as relates to the rates of symptomatic UTI and asymptomatic bacteriuria in hospitalized patients requiring short-term catheterization5. Of interest, nearly 3 times as many people developed acute urinary retention with IUC compared to CUC in this study (16% vs 45%, respectively, RR 0.45, 95% CI 0.22-0.91).
In short, despite its theoretical advantage in reducing the risk of UTIs due to lack of a constant presence of a catheter, solid data to support preference of IUC over CUC in short-term management of urinary retention in hospitalized patients is still lacking.
Bonus pearl: Did you know that compared to indwelling urinary catheters, suprapubic catheters are associated with lower incidence of asymptomatic bacteriuria, but not necessarily symptomatic UTIs? 5
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- Lo, Nicolle LE, Coffin SE, et al. Strategies to prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infections in acute care hospitals: 2014 update. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2014;35:464-78. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25376068
- Hooton TM, Bradley SF, Cardenas DD, et al. Diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of catheter-associated urinary tract infection in adults: 2009 International Clinical Practice Guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis 2010;50:625-663. https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/50/5/625/324341
- Kunin CM, McCormack RC. Prevention of catheter-induced urinary-tract infections by sterile closed drainage. N Engl J Med 1966;274:1155-61. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5934951
- Saint S, Lipsky BA. Preventing catheter-related bacteriuria: Should we? Can we? How? Arch Intern Med 1999;159:800-808. https://reference.medscape.com/medline/abstract/10219925
- Kidd EA, Stewart F, Kassis NC, et al. Urethral (indwelling or intermittent) or suprapubic routes for short-term catheterization in hospitalized adults (review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015; Issue 12. Art No. :CD004203. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004203.pub3/full