For patients suffering from urinary retention due to neurogenic [e.g., spinal cord injury (SCI), spina bifida (SB), multiple sclerosis (MS)] or non-neurogenic [e.g., cancer, benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH)] causes, intermittent catheterization is the primary choice for bladder emptying. This scoping review compared hydrophilic-coated intermittent catheters (HCICs) with non-hydrophilic (uncoated) catheters in neurogenic and non-neurogenic patients with respect to satisfaction, preference, adverse events, urinary tract infection (UTI), quality of life (QoL), cost effectiveness, pain, and discomfort.
A systematic literature search was conducted using PubMed, Cochrane Library, Google Scholar, Embase, and available clinical practice guidelines and was limited to systematic reviews/meta-analysis and clinical studies (randomized trials, cohort and case–control studies) published in English between 2000 and 2020. A narrative synthesis was performed, comparing HCIC with non-hydrophilic catheters in each pathology. The articles where critically appraised and weighted according to their level of evidence based on the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine Levels of Evidence grading.
Thirty seven original articles and 40 reviews were included. The comparison of HCICs versus non-hydrophilic catheters was well-documented in patients with mixed pathology, SCI, and to some extent SB. The available evidence predominantly indicates better outcomes with HCICs as reported by study authors, particularly, greater UTI reduction and improved satisfaction, cost-effectiveness, and QoL. However, SB studies in children did not report reduction in UTIs. Children complained about slippery catheters, indicating possible touching of the surface during insertion, which may compromise cleanliness of the procedure and affect outcomes such as UTI. Limited studies were available exclusively on BPH and none on MS; however, most studies performed on mixed pathologies, including BPH and MS, indicated strong preference for HCICs compared to non-hydrophilic catheters.
The findings generally support HCICs over non-hydrophilic catheters; however, most studies were fairly small, often used a mix of pathologies, and the conclusions were often based on studies with high drop-out rates that were therefore underpowered. Larger studies are needed to support the general finding that HCICs are the preferred choice in most populations. Additional training in children or redesigned catheters may be necessary for this age-group to fully benefit from the advantages of HCICs.