QASA survey confirms single-use catheters are best

Following the findings of a Canadian professor regarding the reuse of catheters, QASA conducted its own study to determine the best approach to intermittent catheterisation.

After reading about the findings of a critical analysis by Professor Andrei Krassioukov, of the University of British Columbia in Canada, and his colleagues, the QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) set out to conduct its own survey to determine what sort of bladder management routine is the healthiest.

The organisation wanted to ascertain whether there really was a difference between reusable catheters and single-use hydrophilic catheters. To test this question, QASA collected data from members who’d changed their type of catheter due to problems with bladder infections. There was a total of 15 participants who’d switched from reusing uncoated catheters to hydrophilic single-use catheters.

Participants were asked via email and a web survey to indicate the type of catheter currently used and the number of urinary tract infections (UTIs) they experienced before and after switching.

The results indicated a dramatic reduction in reported UTIs – from an average of 5,7 per year to 0,7 per year – when patients had access to single-use catheters. This suggests a reduction of 88 percent in terms of users contracting a UTI based on the type of catheter.

The survey clearly supports Professor Krassioukov’s claim that reusing catheters increases the risk that bacteria will be introduced to the urinary tract and cause infection. For this reason, single-use catheters – and especially the ready-to-use hydrophilic versions – are the safer option. They are also an easier and less time-consuming alternative.

Good bladder management routines are critical for people with a spinal cord injury. By not complying with recommended practice, a range of health complications may arise – from UTIs to sepsis. In the longer term, poor bladder management can also lead to kidney failure, and can even have potentially fatal consequences.

Ari Seirlis, the CEO of QASA, has fought hard for many years to improve access to catheters that best meet the individual needs of persons using intermittent catheterisation for their bladder emptying. He stresses that even though the survey is not an academic study, the results speak for themselves.

Several of the respondents added comments about the significant impact single-use catheterisation has had on their quality of life. One participant notes: “I have always had a box of antibiotics at hand just in case of a UTI, but since starting the hydrophilic catheterisation, I have never even had the hint of a UTI.”

While the evidence may not be conclusive, Seirlis has no doubt about the positive effects single-use catheters can have in users’ daily lives, almost immediately. Eventually it is hoped that single-use, sterile, hydrophilic-coated catheters will become the new standard of care for those with bladder emptying challenges to reduce the risk of frequent UTIs.

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