Urinary problems

15 Urinary problems

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

How common are UTIs?

A total of 10–15% of healthy non-pregnant women will suffer from acute uncomplicated cystitis each year1 with the highest incidence (17.5%) reported by women aged 18 to 24 years. By age 24, one-third of women will have at least one physician-diagnosed UTI that was treated with prescription medication.1 Some 12% of women with an initial infection and 48% of those with recurrent infections will have a further episode in the same year.2

Is there anything else that it could be?

In about 50% of women who present with urinary symptoms, there is no bacteriuria. These women nevertheless present with dysuria, frequency and urgency.4 Pyuria may be present or absent. They are said to have acute urethral syndrome, or interstitial cystitis or irritable bladder.

The aetiology of urethral syndrome is unclear, but it may be due to bacteria found in low concentrations or bacteria that are difficult to culture, or to nonspecific inflammation or muscular dysfunction.

Other causes of dysuria and frequency include:

Are there any factors that predispose to UTIs?

When providing patient education about UTIs, there are a number of predisposing factors1,5,6,79 that should be highlighted, the strongest of which, in young women, is recent sexual activity (the relative odds of acute cystitis increase by a factor of 60 during the 48 hours after sexual intercourse).10 It is important to inform women of the risk factors, so that they can understand how their own behaviour is related to the onset of UTIs. These factors are listed in Box 15.1. GPs should also be aware of factors that may lead to a more complicated situation, such as abnormalities of urinary tract function (for example, indwelling catheter, neuropathic bladder, vesicoureteric reflux, outflow obstruction, other anatomical abnormalities), previous urinary tract surgery and states of immunocompromise, and neurological disorders. Pregnant women are also at increased risk of pyelonephritis associated with the relative ureteral obstruction during gestation. Risk factors for UTI in postmenopausal women include recurrent UTI, bladder prolapse or cystocele, and increased post-void residual urine.11

What should a GP do when a woman presents with symptoms of a UTI?

Besides taking a history and checking for fever and the possibility of upper urinary tract infection, GPs need to decide whether to investigate the urine or treat empirically.

A mid-stream specimen of urine can be tested either by a urine dipstick or by sending the sample to a laboratory for microscopy and culture. Urine microscopy and culture has long been the ‘gold standard’ for diagnosis of UTIs but it is expensive and slow to produce a result. Dipstick testing, on the other hand, can be performed on the spot by a GP or nurse. When it shows the presence of either leucocyte esterase or nitrites, it is highly predictive of a positive urine culture (whereas absence of either finding markedly reduces the likelihood of infection),13 and it has been found to be a fairly reliable way to diagnose UTIs. It is important, however, to undertake urine culture if an accurate diagnosis is needed or in order to select an effective antimicrobial (as in pregnancy, treatment failure or immunocompromise). Box 15.3 (p 286) outlines the tests commonly carried out by dipstick testing and Table 15.1 (p 286) advises how to use nitrite and leucocyte testing to guide management in symptomatic female general practice patients.

Imaging of women with an uncomplicated UTI is not warranted, as there is a low yield of positive results.14 Neither is a single episode of pyelonephritis associated with a clinically significant risk of anatomic abnormality.15 However, in cases of recurrent pyelonephritis imaging with renal ultrasound, intravenous pyelogram or voiding cystourethrogram is indicated.

Should all women presenting with a UTI have urine M&C carried out?

Uncomplicated UTI in non-pregnant women rarely causes severe illness or has significant long-term consequences, and in 50% of patients the condition improves without antimicrobials within 3 days.16 Despite this, empiric treatment of uncomplicated UTIs has been advocated by some as the most cost-effective way to manage UTIs.17,18 Those against empiric management argue on two grounds. First, they say that the urine should be examined to ascertain the diagnosis, limit unnecessary use of antibiotics and identify those patients who may require further investigation. Second, they argue that since uncomplicated UTIs account for a substantial proportion of all prescribed antibiotics, empiric management may lead to rising levels of antibiotic resistance in the community. With regard to this latter argument, however, levels of resistance found in the laboratory may overestimate levels of resistance in general practice.19

What measures can be taken in women suffering from recurrent urinary tract infections?

Case control studies6,10 have found no evidence that poor urinary hygiene predisposes women to recurrent infections, and there is no evidence to support giving women specific instructions regarding the frequency of urination, the timing of voiding (postcoital voiding), wiping patterns, douching, the use of hot tubs or the wearing of pantyhose in order to prevent the occurrence of UTIs.

In postmenopausal women with recurrent UTIs, topical vaginal oestrogen can be effective in reducing recurrence.11

In women who have three or more urinary tract infections a year, a GP has several options for management27:

If either of the last two options are put in place, prophylaxis should be started after active infection has been eradicated (confirmed by a negative urine culture at least one to two weeks after treatment is

stopped).31 It is important to inform women starting prophylaxis that it works while it is taken but that upon discontinuation UTIs may recur.31

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Nov 4, 2016 | Posted by in OBSTETRICS | Comments Off on Urinary problems
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