What is the role of self-catheterization in urinary incontinence treatment?

Updated: Jan 22, 2021
  • Author: Sandip P Vasavada, MD; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Candidates for self-catheterization must have motivation and intact physical and cognitive abilities. Anyone who has good use of the hands and arms can perform self-catheterization. Young children and older people have proved capable of doing this every day without any problems. For individuals who are impaired, a home caregiver or a visiting nurse can be instructed to perform intermittent catheterization.

Self-catheterization may be performed at home, at work, or other sites. In young, immunocompetent patients, intermittent catheterization may be performed using either a sterile catheter or a nonsterile clean catheter. Patients should wash their hands with soap and water. Sterile gloves are not necessary. Clean intermittent catheterization results in lower rates of infection than the rates noted with indwelling catheters.

Studies show that in patients with spinal cord injuries, the incidence of bacteria in the bladder is 1-3% per catheterization and 1-4 episodes of bacteriuria occur per 100 days of intermittent catheterization (when drainage is performed 4 times daily). Furthermore, the infections that do occur usually are managed without complications.

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