When is urethral catheterization for collecting a urine specimen indicated for diagnosis of acute pyelonephritis (kidney infection)?

Updated: Jul 01, 2021
  • Author: Tibor Fulop, MD, PhD, FACP, FASN; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Catheterization poses a small risk of introducing bacteria into the normally sterile bladder environment. Circumstances that justify this risk when a urine culture is necessary include the following:

  • Inability to void, or difficulty voiding urine even with hydration
  • Marked obesity or redundant labia in females
  • Ill patients who cannot reliably perform the procedure
  • Performance of a urologic procedure during which a specimen can be collected
  • Children 2-6 years of age (if a clinician-assisted clean-catch specimen cannot be collected)

For details on performing this procedure, see Urethral Catheterization in Women and Urethral Catheterization in Men.

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