The Urinary Catheter and Joint Replacement Surgery

August 20, 2019
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DETROIT – A new study by Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit has found that joint replacement surgery can be performed safely without patients needing a Foley urinary catheter, which for years has been part of the standard practice for this type of surgery.

In a retrospective study of 335 male and female patients, researchers found that patients who underwent surgery without a catheter were at no increased risk of post-surgery complications than those who did have a catheter.

Researchers concluded that “routine use of pre-operative urinary catheters can be reconsidered for this mode of anesthesia.”

The study, which for the first time evaluated the effects of performing hip and knee replacements without placing a catheter, is published in The Journal of Arthroplasty.

“Until now, we didn’t have the research to show that we could perform the surgery without a Foley catheter,” says Michael Charters, M.D., a Henry Ford joint replacement surgeon and the study’s senior author. “All of our patients are now undergoing surgery without the catheter. It’s a huge benefit for patients because it improves their mobility immediately after surgery. They can get up and walk around without being impeded by catheter tubes.”

Dr. Charters says research such as this is driving future refinements in the surgery and patient experience.

Prior to this study at Henry Ford, the catheter was inserted into the bladder in the operating room prior to surgery and removed the next day.

For their study, Dr. Charters and his team of researchers (Trevor North, M.D., and Oliver Scotting, M.D.) sought to compare the potential risks of complications between patients with and without a catheter under epidural anesthesia from 2016-2018. Of the 335 patients, whose average age was 65, 103 received a catheter and 232 did not. Data was collected from patients’ hospital admission and for the next 90 days.

Between the two groups, researchers found no differences in urinary complications, urinary retention, urinary incontinence or urinary tract infection, Dr. Charters says.

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MEDIA CONTACT: David Olejarz / David.Olejarz@hfhs.org / 313.874.4094