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J Trauma. 2007 Feb;62(2):330-5; discussion 334-5.

Blind urethral catheterization in trauma patients suffering from lower urinary tract injuries.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, UCLA Medical Center, David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.



The goals of our study were to review all cases of urethral and bladder trauma that presented to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center between January 1998 and August 2005 and determine (1) the clinical characteristics of patients with urethral and/or bladder injuries as well as the sensitivities of those clinical characteristics; (2) whether or not a blind attempt to insert a urethral catheter was performed; and (3) whether there is any evidence that a blind attempt to insert a urethral catheter worsened the initial urinary tract injury.


This is a retrospective chart review.


The study cohort comprised 46 patients with a mean age of 30 years, including 36 men (78.2%) and 10 women (21.8%). Bladder tears were found in 33 patients, 10 patients had urethral lacerations, and 3 patients had combined bladder and urethral lacerations. The most sensitive finding for urinary bladder or urethral injury was the presence of gross hematuria in the urethral catheter (100%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.63-0.89). Blinded insertion of a urethral catheter was attempted in 30 (90.9%, 95% CI 0.75-0.98) patients who suffered from urinary bladder injury, 6 (50%, 95% CI 0.26-0.87) patients who suffered from urethral injury and 1 (33%, 95% CI 0.0-0.9) patient who suffered from a combined urinary bladder and urethral injuries. We did not find evidence that a blind attempt to insert a urethral catheter worsened the initial urinary injury.


Gross hematuria in the urethral catheter was the most sensitive sign for the presence of a urethral or urinary bladder injury in our study cohort, and often the only sign of such an injury. We found no evidence that a blind attempt to insert a urethral catheter in patients suffering from urethral and or urinary bladder injuries worsened the initial injury. Larger studies will be needed to determine the safety of blind urethral catheterization in patients that are suspected to suffer from a lower urological trauma. It is our opinion that the current guidelines should be revised to better reflect the current knowledge, technologies, and clinical practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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