What Is a
Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI)?
A catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) is one
of the most common infections a person can contract in the hospital, according
to the American
Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
Indwelling catheters are the cause of this infection. An
indwelling catheter is a tube inserted into your urethra. It drains urine from
your bladder into a collection bag. You may need a catheter if you have had
surgery or cannot control your bladder function, and there is a need to closely
monitor how much urine your kidneys are producing.
What Are the Symptoms of a
A CAUTI has similar symptoms to a typical urinary tract
infection (UTI). These include:
- cloudy urine
- blood in the urine
- strong urine odor
- urine leakage around your catheter
- pressure, pain, or discomfort in your lower back
- unexplained fatigue
CAUTIs can be difficult to diagnose in if you are already hospitalized
because similar symptoms may be part of your original illness. In elderly people,
changes in mental status or confusion can be signs of a CAUTI.
If you have a catheter and notice any localized discomfort,
tell your nurse or doctor right away.
What Causes a CAUTI?
Bacteria or fungi may enter your urinary tract via the
catheter. There they can multiply, causing an infection.
There are a number of ways infection can occur during
catheterization. For example:
- the catheter may become contaminated upon
- the drainage bag may not be emptied often enough
- bacteria from a bowel movement may get on the
- urine in the catheter bag may flow backward into
- the catheter may not be regularly cleaned
Clean insertion and removal techniques can help lower the
risk of a CAUTI. Daily catheter care is required as well. Catheters shouldn’t
be left in longer than needed, as longer use is associated with a higher risk
How Is a CAUTI Diagnosed?
A CAUTI is diagnosed using a urine test. Urinalysis can detect
blood cells in your urine. Their presence may signal an infection.
Another useful test is a urine culture. This test identifies
any bacteria or fungi in your urine. Knowing what caused the infection can help
your doctor treat it.
Sometimes, your bladder doesn’t move urine out of your body
quickly enough. This can happen even with a catheter. Retained urine is more
likely to grow bacteria. Infection risk increases the longer urine stays in
your bladder. Your doctor may recommend an imaging test of your bladder, such
as an ultrasound
scan, to see if you’re retaining urine.
Potential Complications of
Prompt treatment of a CAUTI is essential. An untreated UTI
can lead to a more serious kidney infection. In addition, people with catheters
may already have conditions that compromise their immune systems. Fighting off
a CAUTI can cause further immune system stress. This makes you more vulnerable
to future infections.
How Is a CAUTI Treated?
CAUTIs tend to be more resistant to treatment than other
UTIs. This is true in general for hospital-acquired infections. CAUTIs are
dangerous because they can lead to severe kidney infections. This makes prompt
diagnosis and treatment vital for your long-term health.
Your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to kill off
any harmful bacteria. In most cases, these will be oral antibiotics. You may be
given antibiotics intravenously in the case of a severe infection. If the
infection causes bladder spasms, your doctor may prescribe an anti-spasmodic to
lessen bladder pain.
Increasing your fluid intake can also help you feel better
by flushing bacteria from your urinary system. Certain fluids should be
avoided. These include:
- citrus fruit juices
- caffeinated beverages, such as sodas
How Can CAUTIs Be
CAUTIs are one of the most common hospital-related
infections. Therefore, many healthcare organizations place great emphasis on
Your doctor will carefully consider whether a catheter is
necessary. They’ll also remove a necessary catheter as soon as possible.
In addition, you or the hospital staff should:
- clean around the catheter each day
- clean the skin around the catheter each day
- keep the drainage bag below your bladder
- empty the drainage bag several times per day
- keep the catheter tube from kinking
- wash your hands before and after touching the
catheter or drainage bag
- change the catheter at least once per month
Frequent hand-washing and good hygiene practices on the part
of hospital staff can also help prevent CAUTIs.