Trauma Survivors Network - provided by ATS

Survive. Connect. Rebuild.

A Program of the ATS

UTI After Spinal Cord Injury

Some people with spinal cord injury (SCI) will lose control of their urinary tract and will need to have something called an indwelling catheter. This is a catheter that is permanently kept in the urinary system to drain urine from the body. Because the catheter is exposed to the outside world it provides a direct path for bacteria to enter the urinary tract, namely the bladder. These bacteria can cause infection if the immune system function is compromised, the person becomes dehydrated, or if the catheter becomes blocked. Symptoms of UTI after an SCI can include fever, chills, leakage around the catheter, low back pain, increased spasm of the legs, abdomen or bladder, headache, nausea, feeling tired, burning of the urinary system, bad smelling cloudy urine, and blood in the urine.

Patients with an indwelling catheter can lower the risk of UTIs by drinking lots of fluid, and changing the catheter once per month. Taking a sample of urine from a freshly inserted catheter and depositing it into a sterile specimen cup tests for UTI. This can be done by the patient and brought to the doctor as long as they are careful to keep everything sterile. Taking antibiotics and cleaning or changing the catheter can treat UTI. The prognosis for UTI is good as long as proper care and treatment are performed.