A catheter is a tube in your bladder that removes urine from the body. Because this tube stays in place for an extended period of time, it is called an indwelling catheter. The urine drains from your bladder into a bag outside your body.
When you have an indwelling urinary catheter, you are more likely to develop a urinary tract infection (UTI) in your bladder or kidneys.
Many types of bacteria or fungi can cause a catheter-related UTI. This type of UTI is harder to treat with common antibiotics.
Common reasons to have an indwelling catheter are:
During a hospital stay, you may have an indwelling catheter:
Other symptoms that may occur with a UTI:
Urine tests will check for infection:
Your doctor may recommend an ultrasound or CT exam of your urinary system.
People who use this type of catheter will often have an abnormal test and culture of urine from the bag. But even if the test is abnormal, you may not have a UTI. This fact makes it harder for your health care provider to choose whether to treat you.
Because there is a risk that your infection may spread to your kidneys, antibiotics are almost always used to treat a UTI.
You will need more fluids to help flush bacteria out of your bladder.
After you have finished your treatment, you will have another urine test to make sure the bacteria are gone.
Your catheter will need to be changed when you have a UTI. If you have many UTIs, your doctor may remove the indwelling catheter. The doctor may also:
Your health care provider may prescribe a low-dose antibiotic for you to take every day. This can help prevent bacteria from growing in your catheter.
UTIs related to catheters can be harder to treat than other UTIs. Having many infections over time may lead to kidney damage or kidney stones and bladder stones.
If a UTI is not treated, you may develop kidney damage and more severe infections.
Call your health care provider if you have:
If you have an indwelling catheter, you must do these things to help prevent infection:
Your health care provider might tell you to drink more fluids every day. This is not healthy for everyone, so talk with your doctor before you do this.
UTI - catheter associated; Urinary tract infection - catheter associated; Nosocomial UTI; Health care associated UTI; Catheter-associated bacteriuria
Fishman N, Calfee DP. Prevention and control of health care-associated infections. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 290.
Hooton TM. Nosocomial urinary tract infections. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 304.
Infectious Disease Society of America. 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 Inf Dis. 2010;50:625-663.
Norrby SR. Approach to the patient with urinary tract infection. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 292.
Updated by: Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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