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J Urol. 2000 Mar;163(3):768-72.

Effect of bladder management on urological complications in spinal cord injured patients.

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Department of Urology, University of Tennessee, Memphis, USA.



The optimal method of bladder management in spinal cord injured patients remains controversial. We investigated the association of type of bladder management with urological complications in these patients.


We retrospectively reviewed the medical records, upper tract imaging and video urodynamics of 316 posttraumatic spinal cord injured patients. Mean followup plus or minus standard deviation since injury was 18.3+/-12.4 years. Patients were categorized according to bladder management method, including chronic urethral catheterization, clean intermittent catheterization, spontaneous voiding and suprapubic catheterization in 114, 92, 74 and 36, respectively. No significant differences in patient age at injury, followup interval, or level, completeness or mechanism of injury were noted among bladder management method groups. Infection, stone disease, urethral complications and radiographic abnormalities were recorded.


Of the 398 complications recorded 236 developed in 61 (53.5%) patients on chronic urethral catheterization, 57 in 25 (27.2%) on clean intermittent catheterization, 57 in 24 (32.4%) who voided spontaneously and 48 in 16 (44.4%) on suprapubic catheterization. The intermittent catheterization group had statistically significant lower complication rates compared with the urethral catheterization group and no significantly higher complication rates relative to all other management methods for each type of complication studied. The percent of patients with complications was greater in the chronic urethral catheterization group only 5 years after injury, while the percent in all other management groups remained similar up to 15 years after injury.


Clean intermittent catheterization is the safest bladder management method for spinal cord injured patients in terms of urological complications. Inappropriate selection of a bladder management method not only adversely affects patient quality of life, but also has a significant detrimental impact on the economic status of the health care system.

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