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Intermittent catheterisation: the common complications

02 June 2021
Volume 26 · Issue 6


Intermittent catheterisation (IC) has been in practice for more than 40 years and is considered the gold standard in the management of urinary retention in the neurological bladder. IC has many advantages over indwelling urethral or suprapubic catheterisation, including reducing the risk of infection, protecting the bladder and improving quality of life. However, complications can be caused by the practice of this technique, the most common of which is infection. This review discusses some of the common complications that can occur with the use of intermittent catheterisation, including urinary tract infection (UTIs) and urethral complications. It also highlights the role of the nurse in the management of its complications.

Intermittent catheterisation (IC) has been in practice for more than 40 years and is considered the gold standard for bladder drainage for chronic urine retention (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2015). It is a simple, safe and effective method, in which the catheter is introduced through the meatus and then gradually pushed into the bladder. Urine emptying is ensured and then supplemented by manual pressure above the pubis to finish emptying the bladder. Once the bladder is emptied, the catheter is removed. This procedure can be repeated up to four to six times per day.

IC has many advantages over indwelling urethral or suprapubic catheterisation, including a reduced risk of infection, better bladder protection and improved quality of life (Woodward, 2014).

According to the literature, there are relatively few risks or complications associated with IC. Many risks have been reduced with the introduction of various different types of catheters on the market (Vahr et al, 2013). The risks are recognised as rare compared with the benefits derived from IC (Newman and Willson, 2011).

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