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Role of chronic catheterization in the development of bladder cancer in patients with spinal cord injury.

Urology 1999 Februrary
OBJECTIVES: Patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) and chronic indwelling catheters are known to be at increased risk of bladder malignancy. "Decatheterization" by clean intermittent catheterization, external condom catheterization, or spontaneous voiding is thought to reduce the risk by decreasing the chronic mucosal irritation and rate of infection. We examined two Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) data bases to test this theory.

METHODS: A population-based retrospective analysis of invasive treatments for carcinoma of the bladder in all DVA hospitals was conducted using computerized inpatient files from fiscal years 1988 to 1992.

RESULTS: One hundred thirty patients with bladder malignancy were identified from a pool of 33,565 patients with SCI (0.39%). All 130 patients underwent either radical cystectomy (n = 63, 48%) or transurethral resection of bladder tumor (n = 67, 52%). The 30-day perioperative mortality and overall 5-year survival rates were 2 (1.5%) and 49 (38%) of 130, respectively. Of the 130 patients analyzed, 42 (32%) had adequate data available regarding tumor pathologic findings and method of bladder management for analysis. The average age at diagnosis was 57.3 years. The histologic finding was transitional cell carcinoma in 23 (55%), squamous cell carcinoma in 14 (33%), and adenocarcinoma in 4 (10%) of 42. Bladder management was an indwelling urethral catheter in 18 (43%), suprapubic catheter in 8 (19%), clean intermittent catheterization in 8 (19%), and condom catheter in 6 (14%) of 42 patients. Squamous cell carcinoma was more common in patients with indwelling urethral catheters and suprapubic tubes (11 of 26, 42%) than in those using clean intermittent catheterization, condom catheterization, or spontaneous voiding (3 of 16, 19%).

CONCLUSIONS: Bladder cancer was diagnosed in approximately 0.39% of this large SCI population during a 5-year period. Most cancers (55%) were transitional cell carcinomas. Squamous cell carcinoma was more common in patients with SCI and indwelling catheters than those without chronic catheterization. These data continue to suggest that avoidance of indwelling catheters, when feasible, is the preferred method of bladder management in patients with SCI.

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