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Paraplegia. 1995 Feb;33(2):69-72.

Differences in urinary tract infections in male and female spinal cord injury patients on intermittent catheterization.

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USC School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.


Intermittent catheterization has gained wide acceptance for use in hospitalized patients following spinal cord injury. Most studies evaluating this procedure, however, look only at the infection rate in the male SCI population. In this study the rate and type of infection encountered in the male and female SCI population were evaluated in an inpatient hospital environment. Fifty four patients who were undergoing intermittent catheterization with the MMG/O'Neil catheter system were evaluated. All patients were similar with regard to level of injury and bladder management. There were 45 males and nine females in our study group (n = 45). A total of 10,945 catheterizations were performed with 75 infections indentified. The overall infection rate was 0.68% or one infection for every 146 catheterizations. Of the 45 males there were 58 infections of which 11 (18%) were E. coli. This contrasts with the female population (9) in which there were 17 infections with nine (53%) being E. coli. While a variety of infecting organisms were present in males, females were colonized with either E. coli, enterococcus or Klebsiella. While hospital based intermittent catheterization would appear to be associated with an acceptable low incidence of urinary tract infections (0.68%), infected females have a higher incidence of E. coli (53%) compared to the male population (18%). This study also demonstrated that female patients had a significantly higher infection rate than males (nine females with 17 infections compared to 45 males with 58 infections over the same time period). The higher incidence of urinary tract infections in females with E. coli perhaps is related to the proximity of bowel/stool contamination.

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