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Keywords:

  • indwelling urinary catheter;
  • catheter-associated infections;
  • catheter

What's known on the subject? and What does the study add?

A vast literature has been published on the prevalence, morbidity and microbiology of catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Research and development in recent years has focused on producing antibacterial coatings for the indwelling Foley catheter with insufficient attention to its design.

This article provides a critical examination of the design of the indwelling Foley catheter. Design specifications are outlined for a urine collection device that should reduce the vulnerability of catheterised urinary tract to infection.

The indwelling urinary catheter is the most common cause of infections in hospitals and other healthcare facilities [1]. As long ago as 1958, Paul Beeson [2] warned ‘… the decision to use this instrument should be made with the knowledge that it involves the risk of producing a serious disease which is often difficult to treat’. Since then, scientific studies have progressed revealing a greater understanding of the bladder's defence mechanisms against infection and how they are undermined by the Foley catheter [3–5]. In addition, the complications caused by the development of bacterial biofilms on catheters have been recognised and the ways in which these bacterial communities develop on catheters have become clear [5,6]. It is now obvious that fundamental problems with the basic design of the catheter, which has changed little since it was introduced into urological practice by Dr Fredricc Foley in 1937 [7], induce susceptibility to infection. These issues need to be addressed urgently if we are to produce a device suitable for use in the 21st century.