The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves and tissues about the thickness of a finger, contained in a fluid-filled canal inside the backbone. It allows the brain to send instructions to the body, and also to receive signals from the body to the brain. This allows us to move our body and feel our surroundings.

Spinal injuries are a serious and long-term injury, often resulting from motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries or violence. When someone suffers a spinal injury, the result is a loss of sensation and mobility, depending on the extent and location of the damage. Some symptoms of a spinal injury include:

  • inability to walk
  • inability to move the arms or legs
  • feelings of numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • incontinence

The final symptom involves a part of the sacral spinal cord known as the sacral voiding, or micturition centre. This is the part of the spinal cord that communicates directly with the bladder, and when the link is disrupted through injury or disease, the result is a loss of control of the bladder.

Bladder management with catheters

Depending on the spinal injury and extent of spinal damage, there are several methods of catheterisation available to the patients:

  • Suprapubic catheter – This method involves passing a tube surgically through the abdominal wall directly into the bladder without going through the urethra. This is a common option for quadriplegics and needs to be replaced every six to eight weeks.
  • Indwelling urinary catheter – This is another common option for people with quadriplegia. An indwelling catheter is inserted into the bladder through the urethra, with an inflatable balloon end to keep the catheter in position at the bladder, with the outside end leading to a drainage bag.
  • Intermittent catheter – Where the patient has full arm and hand mobility, a single-use catheter is inserted through the urethra into the bladder to urinate as and when necessary. For women, this is used only when they have enough mobility to move and reach their urethras with ease.
  • External catheter – Also known as a condom catheter or a male catheter, it consists of a sheath made out of PVC, latex or silicone, with an adhesive to attach it to the penis, and the standard tube coming out of the other end, connected to a drainage bag. It requires careful upkeep, with the catheter being removed and the penis washed daily.

Risks of urinary tract infection from catheter use

While catheters are invaluable for managing the bladders of spinal injury patients, there is an increased risk of infection to the urinary tract with extended use. Known as a Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI), this is one of the most common infections in a hospital where bacteria or fungi multiply quickly and infect the bladder with extended use. Indwelling catheters are a major cause of CAUTI although they also occur with suprapubic catheter use.

How UroShield can help lower risks of CAUTI

The risk of catheter-associated infection greatly diminishes the usefulness of catheters for bladder management. However, there is a new and non-invasive way to tackle this problem.

UroShield is a compact external medical device that generates low-frequency, low-intensity ultrasound waves to prevent bacterial biofilm from forming on catheters. The action of the ultrasonic waves runs along the full length of the catheter, up into the balloon and down into the bag, both on the outside and inside surfaces of the catheter. The ultrasound gently vibrates the catheter to stop the bacteria from adhering to the catheter and forming the biofilm – preventing infections from developing.

UroShield also helps to break up biofilm which is normally impenetrable to antibiotics, allowing it access to the bacteria and curing the infection. The vibrations also prevent catheter encrustation and blockage, caused by crystalline deposits of mineral salts in the urine. UroShield also helps to reduce catheter-associated bladder spasms and pain, and is effective for any kind of catheter, both urethral and suprapubic.

To find out more about how UroShield works and what it can do for the spinal injury patient, get in touch with us at 020 8773 7844 or fill out our online form.

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