Current research shows that 43% of patients with long term dependency on urinary catheters experience problems relating to its blockage. Of these, 50% experience catheter blockage within 48h due to a pre-existing urinary tract infection which can cause internal bleeding. The infection contributes to narrowing of the catheter lumen due to a rapid biofilm formation and additional factors cause blood to deposit on the "eye of the catheter" causing it to block. A blocked catheter results in urine being retained inside the patient's bladder and leaking when full (incontinence). This can be distressing for patients and their relatives and at the same time places considerable demands on the National Health Service (NHS) resources in terms of recurrent catheter change and bladder washouts. These specialised procedures are performed by community services staff and during hospital admissions for more serious health care concerns. The estimated cost to the NHS for replacing blocked catheters is around £180 million per annum and is based on patients having to visit the Accident & Emergency clinic and requiring replacements of their urinary catheters/or a washout by hospital trained staff.
Our research in collaboration with Dr Karl Bamford CEO of Vodus Medical is developing an improved urinary catheter which will reduce the likelihood of blockages and ultimately improve efficiency and treatment regimes with quality of patient healthcare.