A Rehabilitation Hospital's Experience with Ionic Silver Foley Catheters

Jackie Kassler; Josh Barnett


Urol Nurs. 2008;28(2):97-99. 

In This Article

What Determines the Selection of Catheter?

When a catheter is clinically indicated, thought goes into what type of catheter is best suited for the patient or resident. Decisions are made in collaboration with physicians, taking into consideration the character of the urine, presence of latex allergy, and existing knowledge of the patient's history of catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Additionally, a decision is made as to size and material of the catheter.

Many institutions have begun the process of converting to latex-free supplies. Our efforts were in this direction when selecting a Foley catheter. In addition to being latex-free, a #16 French 100% silicone Foley catheter has a larger inner lumen than a #16 French latex catheter. This difference is linked to the manufacturing process; silicone can be extruded rather than formed. The 100% silicone catheter with a larger lumen diameter may offer better flow for patients who have high sediment urine or mucus threads. Once a catheter is placed, microorganisms that have been introduced during the catheter insertion will begin to reproduce. Bacteria prefer the latex material to begin biofilm formations; however, silicone catheters eventually succumb to biofilm given time (Kunin, Chin, & Chambers, 1987).

Silver has been used as an antimicrobial for centuries. This is evident in ancient writings by Hippocrates (300 B.C.), who discussed the use of silver in wound care. Silver has long been utilized in wound care dressings and is becoming an industry standard for its antimicrobial activity. Silver-coated Foley catheters have been on the market for almost 10 years but are not the standard of care within any of the health care markets.

Studies have demonstrated that biofilm development on urethral catheters can be reduced in vitro when silver is added to the catheter construction (Ahearn et al., 2000). Research has been predominantly positive that a silver-coated catheter can reduce CAUTI in patients (Bologna et al., 1999; Gentry & Cope, 2005; Karchmer, Giannetta, Muto, Strain, & Farr, 2000; Lai & Fontecchio, 2002; Rupp et al., 2004, Seymour, 2006). Studies have focused on the acute care market more so than in nursing homes, long-term acute care, and rehabilitative hospitals.


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