Risks associated with Urinary Catheterisation

Like any other medical procedure, urinary catheterization does not go without risks and complications. Learn these risks and complications, here.

Dr Poonam Sachdev
MiscellaneousWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Mar 02, 2012Updated at: Jan 18, 2013
Risks associated with Urinary Catheterisation

Urinary catheterisation is a commonly done procedure. It is done with complete aseptic precautions, but despite the high hygiene standards maintained during catheterisation, around 1 in 10 people, who have a catheter, get a urinary tract infection (UTI).

The risk of urinary tract infection increases if the catheter is left in a particular place for long term (an indwelling catheter) or if the catheter is self inserted by the patient at home. The health care provider can train you to use the catheter by yourself at home with the correct hygiene measures.

Symptoms suggestive of a UTI include:

  • Painful or burning urination (i.e. pain or burning sensation on passing urine)
  • Change in normal pattern of urination such as increased frequency of urination(having to urinate much more than usual)
  • Foul-smelling, cloudy urine
  • Fever (usually high)
  • Nausea and vomiting

If you have symptoms suggestive of a UTI, consult your doctor. Your doctor will do urine test/s and recommend antibiotics. Furthermore, the catheter is changed. In some cases, the doctor may recommend antibiotics to you as a precaution to prevent UTIs if long-term urinary catheterisation is needed. Antibiotic gels may be used to lubricate the catheter during insertion.

Other risks

Other risks associated with using urinary catheter include:

  • injury to the urethra (especially, common if the catheter is inserted forcefully or roughly)
  • narrowing of the urethra (this complication usually occurs in long term insertion due to scar tissue formation by the insertion of the catheter)
  • bladder injury (caused  due to incorrect insertion of the catheter)
  • bladder stones (rare and usually occur after years of catheterisation)
  • Blood infections (septicemia)
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)