Female External Catheters May Prevent Catheter-Associated UTIs

Every year, approximately 75,000 people die from healthcare-associated infections while seeking medical care. One of the most common medical concerns in hospitals and care facilities is catheter-associated urinary tract infections or infections that occur as a result of indwelling catheter use. Women are more likely to develop these infections than men, and risks increase significantly the longer a catheter is in place. If a patient is catheterized for 60 days or more, they are 28.2% more likely to develop a catheter-associated UTI (CAUTI).  

Fortunately, healthcare experts have prioritized resources to determine what makes an individual more likely to develop a CAUTI, and how to prevent these infections from remaining so prevalent within our healthcare system. As a result of this diligent research and practical innovations, one of the most significant breakthroughs was born - the female external catheter, also called the female suction catheter. This urinary management device has made a huge impact in reducing the rate of CAUTIs in women.

To understand how to avoid this painful condition, an understanding of how CAUTIs develop is imperative; as well as how they can be prevented with the help of safer and more effective incontinence products for women.

What are indwelling catheters used for?

Invasive catheters like Foley or intermittent catheters involve the insertion of a tube through the urethra to access and eliminate urine from the bladder. Foley catheters remain in place for extended periods and intermittent catheters are inserted upon the need to void and subsequently removed. Frequently, short-term catheterization is necessary when a patient is unable to urinate on their own like in instances of clots, enlarged prostates, or blockages due to kidney stones; but longer-term use of indwelling catheters can become inevitable for those suffering from significant mental illness, dementia, or incontinence.  

Catheter-Associated UTI (CAUTI) Definition

A catheter-associated UTI is an infection that affects any part of the urinary tract, including the urethra, ureters, kidney, or bladder. Approximately 75% of UTIs that develop in hospitals have been linked to the use of indwelling catheters, and patients have a higher risk of developing a CAUTI the longer they are catheterized.  

Other risk factors include:

  • Female genitalia
  • Poor nutrition
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Compromised immune system
  • Pregnancy

Of the risk factors that have been detected, the ones that have the most significant impact are the overall length of catheterization and having female genitalia. Women have a higher risk factor because their urethra is shorter, which offers a much easier path for bacteria to enter the urinary tract.   

Introducing the Female External Catheter

Fortunately, a new alternative to traditional indwelling catheters has been developed and has definitively proven to decrease CAUTI risk factors for women. The  PureWick female external catheter can also help prevent skin infections and irritation associated with the prolonged use of other incontinence products like protective underwear, adult diapers, and washable incontinence undergarments

Instead of being inserted into the bladder through the urethra, a PureWick catheter sits outside of the body, cradled between the lips of the labia. The components of the PureWick system include the ‘wick’, which sits outside of the body, a length of flexible tubing, and a urine collection canister. When urine is released from the urethra, it gets drawn away from the body through suction provided by the collection canister. The entire system can hold up to 1800cc of urine and is designed to be used for 8-12 hours at a time without maintenance.  

Can Female External Catheters Help CAUTI Prevention?

Ever since the female external catheter was introduced as an alternative to indwelling catheters, healthcare workers have been pleased to note that rates of CAUTIs have declined.

Overall, indwelling catheters caused an average of 3.14 CAUTI cases per 1,000 catheter days. After female external catheters started to be used more often, that statistic decreased to only 1.42 per 1,000 catheter days.

This evidence shows that not only are PureWick catheters less painful and invasive, they are also less likely to cause a catheter-associated UTI. Plus, they’re easy to use both in a hospital setting and at home. The urine collection canister is discreet and designed to be used both with battery backup power and without, making the device conveniently portable.  

If you’ve been searching for alternative incontinence products for women, check out the PureWick system. This easy-to-use device is discrete and will help you feel more confident without having to go through the stress and discomfort of traditional indwelling catheterization.