Types of urethral catheter for reducing symptomatic urinary tract infections in hospitalised adults requiring short-term catheterisation: multicentre randomised controlled trial and economic evaluation of antimicrobial- and antiseptic-impregnated urethral catheters (the CATHETER trial)

R Pickard, T Lam, G Maclennan, K Starr, M Kilonzo, G McPherson, K Gillies, A McDonald, K Walton, B Buckley, C Glazener, C Boachie, J Burr, J Norrie, L Vale, A Grant, J N'dow
Health Technology Assessment: HTA 2012, 16 (47): 1-197

BACKGROUND: Catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) is a major preventable cause of harm for patients in hospital and incurs significant costs for health-care providers such as the UK NHS. Many preventative strategies and measures have been introduced to minimise CAUTI risk, including the use of antimicrobial catheters. However, there is considerable uncertainty regarding their usefulness in terms of reducing symptomatic CAUTI, and whether or not they are cost-effective.

OBJECTIVES: Do antimicrobial catheters reduce the rate of symptomatic urinary tract infection (UTI) during short-term hospital use and is their use cost-effective for the UK NHS?

DESIGN: A pragmatic multicentre UK randomised controlled trial comparing three catheters as they would be used in the UK NHS: antimicrobial-impregnated (nitrofurazone) and antiseptic-coated (silver alloy) catheters with the standard polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-coated catheters. Economic evaluation used a decision model populated with data from the trial. Sensitivity analysis was used to explore uncertainty.

SETTING: Relevant clinical departments in 24 NHS hospitals throughout the UK.

PARTICIPANTS: Adults requiring temporary urethral catheterisation for a period of between 1 and 14 days as part of their care, predominantly as a result of elective surgery.

INTERVENTIONS: Eligible participants were randomised 1 : 1 : 1 to one of three types of urethral catheter in order to make the following pragmatic comparisons: nitrofurazone-impregnated silicone catheter compared with standard PTFE-coated latex catheter; and silver alloy-coated hydrogel latex catheter compared with standard PTFE-coated latex catheter.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome for clinical effectiveness was the incidence of UTI at any time up to 6 weeks post randomisation. This was defined as any symptom reported during catheterisation, up to 3 days or 1 or 2 weeks post catheter removal or 6 weeks post randomisation combined with a prescription of antibiotics, at any of these times, for presumed symptomatic UTI. The primary economic outcome was incremental cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY). Health-care costs were estimated from NHS sources with QALYs calculated from participant completion of the European Quality of Life-5 Dimensions (EQ-5D).

RESULTS: Outcome analyses encompassed 6394 (90%) of 7102 participants randomised. The rate of symptomatic UTI within 6 weeks of randomisation was 10.6% in the nitrofurazone group (n = 2153; -2.1% absolute risk difference), 12.5% in the silver alloy group (n = 2097; -0.1% absolute risk difference) and 12.6% in the PTFE group (n = 2144). The effect size {odds ratio (OR) [97.5% confidence interval (CI)]} was 0.82 (97.5% CI 0.66 to 1.01) for nitrofurazone (p = 0.037) and 0.99 (97.5% CI 0.81 to 1.22) for silver alloy (p = 0.92) catheters. The nitrofurazone catheters were more likely to cause discomfort during use and on removal. The primary economic analysis suggested that nitrofurazone-impregnated catheters would be, on average, the least costly (> £7 less than PTFE) and most effective option at current NHS prices. There was a 73% chance that nitrofurazone would be cost saving and an 84% chance that the incremental cost per QALY would be < £30,000. At the trial price (£6.46), silver alloy catheters were very unlikely to be cost-effective. These results were unchanged in sensitivity analyses, although when the length of stay cost was excluded the incremental cost per QALY for nitrofurazone against PTFE was £28,602.

CONCLUSIONS: The trial estimate of clinical effectiveness for nitrofurazone-impregnated catheters was less than the pre-specified minimum absolute risk difference that we considered important (-3.3%), and the surrounding CI included zero, indicating that any reduction in catheter-associated UTI was uncertain. Economic analysis, although associated with uncertainty, suggested that nitrofurazone-impregnated catheters may be cost-effective for the NHS. The trial ruled out the possibility that silver alloy-coated catheters might reach the pre-set degree of clinical effectiveness and that their use was unlikely to be cost-effective. These findings should be considered by patients, clinicians and health-care policy-makers to determine whether or not a change in practice is worthwhile. Future research should be aimed at determining the minimum clinically important difference in terms of CAUTI prevention in comparative trials, and to identify reliable methods which can detect the impact of the intervention on quality of life and other drivers of cost, when the intervention is a subsidiary part of overall treatment plans.

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