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Volume 11, Pages 77-85
Case Series

Barriers to Implementing Intermittent Catheterisation in Spinal Cord Injury Patients in Northwest Regional Spinal Injuries Centre, Southport, U.K.

1Regional Spinal Injuries Centre, District General Hospital, Southport, Merseyside, UK
2Department of Urology, District General Hospital, Southport, Merseyside, UK
3Department of Radiology, District General Hospital, Southport, Merseyside, UK

Received 19 August 2010; Revised 1 December 2010; Accepted 5 December 2010

Academic Editor: Anthony Atala

Copyright © 2011 Subramanian Vaidyanathan et al.


Intermittent catheterisation is the preferred method of managing the neurogenic bladder in patients with spinal cord injury. However, spinal cord physicians experienced problems when trying to implement an intermittent catheterisation regime in some spinal cord injury patients in the northwest of England. We present illustrative cases to describe practical difficulties encountered by patients while trying to adopt an intermittent catheterisation regime. Barriers to intermittent catheterisation are (1) caregivers or nurses are not available to carry out five or six catheterisations a day; (2) lack of time to perform intermittent catheterisations; (3) unavailability of suitable toilet facilities in public places, including restaurants and offices; (4) redundant prepuce in a male patient, which prevents ready access to urethral meatus; (5) urethral false passage; (6) urethral sphincter spasm requiring the use of flexible-tip catheters and α-drenoceptor–blocking drugs; (7) reluctance to perform intermittent catheterisation in patients >60 years by some health professionals; and (8) difficulty in accessing the urethral meatus for catheterisation while the patient is sitting up, especially in female patients. These cases demonstrate the urgent need for provision of trained caregivers who can perform intermittent catheterisation, and improvement in public facilities that are suitable for performing catheterisation in spinal cord injury patients. Further, vigilance should be exercised during each catheterisation in order to prevent complications, such as urethral trauma and consequent false passages. Health professionals should make additional efforts to implement intermittent catheterisation in female spinal cord injury patients and in those >60 years.