A systematic review of the management of short-term indwelling urethral catheters to prevent urinary tract infections

Sandeep Moola, Rie Konno
JBI Library of Systematic Reviews 2010, 8 (17): 695-729

BACKGROUND: Indwelling urinary catheterisation is a relatively common procedure in hospital settings, associated with potential risk of infection. Around 80% of urinary tract infections (UTIs) are associated with urinary catheters and the risk of infection increases in patients who are acutely ill. The objective of this review was to present the best available critically appraised evidence related to preventing infections associated with the use of short-term indwelling urethral catheters. This review is an update of a previous review published in 2004.

REVIEW METHODS: The review considered randomised controlled trials that included adult patients with short-term indwelling urinary catheters. The main interventions related to catheterisation techniques, meatal care, catheter composition, bladder irrigation, drainage systems, care delivery practices and education programs. The primary outcome of interest was the difference in the rates of UTIs between the intervention group and control group. This review was limited to short-term urethral catheters, so studies that evaluated long-term or suprapubic catheters were excluded.

SEARCH STRATEGY: The search included both published and unpublished studies with an initial limited search of MEDLINE and CINAHL databases undertaken to identify key words contained in the title or abstract, and index terms used to describe relevant interventions. A second extensive search used all identified key words and index terms. The third step included a search of the reference lists and bibliographies of relevant articles.

METHODOLOGICAL QUALITY: The methodological quality of the included papers was assessed using a checklist developed by the Joanna Briggs Institute. Two independent reviewers conducted critical appraisal and data extraction and any disagreements that arose were addressed through mutual discussion.

RESULTS: The review found six new studies in relation to catheter composition and delivery care practices interventions. Studies from previous review have been reported on in the results, discussion and conclusion sections. No one type of catheter was found to be better than another in terms of reducing the risk of bacteriuria in hospitalised adults. The incidence of catheter associated bacteriuria and funguria (CABF) was lower in adult trauma patients when nitrofurazone-impregnated catheters were used. Nitrofurazone-coated and silver alloy-coated catheters reduced the development of asymptomatic bacteriuria during short-term (< 30 days) use when compared with latex or silicon control catheters. Studies that compared immediate versus delayed catheter removal following operations found that early removal of catheter after operation was safe and that there was a tendency for increased infection with longer duration of catheterisation. Stop (prewritten) orders for urinary catheters resulted in a significant reduction in duration of inappropriate catheterisation days.There was no significant difference in infection rate using either sterile surgical or non-sterile insertion technique. The use of water for cleansing prior to catheter insertion was recommended. There was no additional benefit from specific meatal care other than standard daily personal hygiene and removal of debris. Infection rates were similar for both latex and silicone catheters. Comparisons between silver and Teflon coating clearly favoured the silver alloy coating.The use of a complex closed drainage system in the intensive care environment did not confer any additional benefit. Studies comparing types of junction seals and use of junction seals either prior to or following catheterisation found no clear benefit from using either preconnected sealed systems or sealed systems with the addition of silver releasing devices. Neither the addition of chlorhexidine nor hydrogen peroxide to the drainage bag was found to be effective at reducing UTI rates. The findings indicated there was a higher incidence of bacteriuria associated with Foley catheters compared with intermittent catheterisation (P < 0.025). A single RCT examined the effect on UTI rates of routine bag changes against no routine bag change. Routine bag changes were not advantageous in reducing the risk of infection.

CONCLUSIONS: Current RCT evidence suggests the use of a surgical sterile catheterisation technique is not required, and that tap water is sufficient for cleaning genitalia. Following insertion, daily hygiene around the meatal area is as effective as catheter toilets; and catheters impregnated with silver may reduce the incidence of catheter associated bacteriuria. Sealed (e.g. taped, presealed) drainage systems should not be relied upon as the sole mechanism for prevention of bacteriuria. The addition of antibacterial solutions to drainage bags and the routine change of drainage bags had no effect on catheter associated infection.Identified evidence consistently supported early removal of catheter after operations. New evidence was also identified to support the use of "stop orders" for urinary catheters in reducing prolonged unnecessary catheterisation. However, most of the recommendations arising from this review were based on single studies, often with limited numbers of participants.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: The following are some of the recommendations based on the best available clinical evidence.Use of stop order approach to physicians by nurses can be recommended to reduce prolonged unnecessary catheterisations.

IMPLICATIONS FOR RESEARCH: Most of the recommendations arising from this review were based on single studies, often with limited numbers of participants. There is an urgent need to replicate these studies in other clinical settings.Further high quality RCTs with adequate allocation concealment and blinding are required with a focus on examining current techniques and methods in catheterisation and management. In addition, there are cost implications associated with new technologies for indwelling urethral catheter management that have not yet been adequately addressed.

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