Female Urinary Catheter

In Short:

This device collects the voided urine of bedridden female patients, and is specifically designed to reduce the rate of hospital-acquired urinary tract infections, leading to fewer complications and deaths and reducing costs to hospitals, insurance companies, and patients.


Motivation:

Hospital-acquired infections are a constant risk for patients in various care centers.  One of the most common causes of infections is indwelling urinary catheters.  These catheters are inserted into the patient’s urethra and left in place to collect urine from patients who are not able to sit up or for those patients whose urine must be constantly monitored for blood or other substances.  The catheters bring risk of infection in several ways, including initial contamination or providing a conduit for bacteria to climb into the bladder past natural barrier features.  Women are at a significantly higher risk of infection due to the fact that they have a significantly shorter urethra than men and because of the proximity of their urethra to bacteria-prone areas.




Solutions to these problems are available to male patients, including the commonly used “texas” or “condom” catheter.  However, due to anatomical challenges, no sufficiently effective alternative to indwelling catheters is available to women.  As a result, women suffer significantly more hospital-acquired urinary tract infections than men. 


The Team:

Nikolai Begg, Danielle Zurovcik.


Design:

In developing this device, several key functional requirements were identified. Most importantly, the device should not increase the risk or discomfort to the patient.  In fulfilling this requirement an understanding of the relevant anatomy and various tissue types was critical.  Since urine is collected externally, there is potential for long-term contact between urine and various tissues.  The reactions of these tissues to moisture, acidity, and various materials was examined and considered in evaluating concepts. 


The device must collect all urine voided from the patient’s bladder.  This is critical since measurements of urine volume and flow rate are frequently taken, and also in order to prevent leakage and odor.  This requirement lead to extensive investigation of sealing methods against various tissues and anatomical structures.  The significant anatomical variations between patients made this requirement particularly challenging. 


The device should be easy to use.  Urinary catheters are placed so often that it is not economically feasible to require highly-trained specialists to place them.  In addition they are often installed by nurses who are responsible for many patients and do not have the time for a lengthy insertion procedure.  Since nurses have limited time to fix or re-place catheters, the device must stay in place for up to two days. 


Finally, the device must be cheap in order to compete with current catheters, most of which cost hospitals less than $4 per unit. 


In order to test various concepts, an anatomically accurate medical simulator was constructed that was capable of expelling urine at an adjustable flow rate.  Currently, concepts are being evaluated and will hopefully soon be further developed and tested in preparation for clinical trials. 



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