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Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection



A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of the urinary tract. This includes the urethra, a tube that carries urine out of the body, the bladder, and the kidneys. A catheter-associated UTI (CAUTI) is an infection that starts while a catheter, or tube, is in place or shortly after it is taken out.

The tube is passed through the urethra into the bladder. It helps drain urine out when the body is not able to. A tube may be needed for certain health problems, when the area needs to heal, or during hospital care.

The Urinary Tract

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CAUTI is caused by certain germs.

The tube makes it easier for germs to pass into the urinary tract. CAUTIs can happen when:

  • The tube is being placed
  • Urine in the bag flows back into the bladder
  • The tube becomes contaminated after a bowel movement
  • Equipment is not used or cleaned as it should be
  • There are leaks around the tube

Risk Factors

Just having a tube in place makes the risk of CAUTI higher.

CAUTI is more common in women. The chances of CAUTI are also higher in those with:

  • Older age
  • A tube in place for more than 2 days
  • A history of UTIs
  • Kidney problems
  • Diabetes
  • Immune system problems


Not everyone with CAUTI has symptoms. In those that have them, symptoms may include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Problems thinking clearly
  • Vague feeling of illness
  • Feeling tired or sluggish
  • Pain in the back or belly
  • Pain in or around the testicles
  • Blood in the urine

These symptoms may appear after the tube is taken out:

  • Urge to pass urine often
  • Only a small amount of urine is passed
  • Burning or pain when passing urine
  • Pelvic pain


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health past. A physical exam will be done. Your answers and the exam may point to a UTI.

Tests are used to confirm a UTI or look for other causes of your symptoms. These may include:

  • Urinalysis—a urine sample is tested in a lab
  • Urine culture—to find the germ causing the infection


The tube will be taken out as soon as it can.

Antibiotics will fight the infection. They may be given through an IV or taken by mouth. The medicine can be changed based what germ is causing problems.


The care team will:

  • Only place a tube when it is needed.
  • Wash their hands before and after touching the tube.
  • Take the tube out as soon as it can.

People with a tube can make sure:

  • The tube is needed. Ask when it will be taken out.
  • The care team washes their hands before and after touching the tube.
  • The urine bag is below the level of the bladder.
  • The tube is not pulled, kinked, or twisted.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Institute for Healthcare Improvement


Health Canada

Infection Prevention and Control Canada


Catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated May 29, 2019. Accessed July 17, 2019.

Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Accessed March 28, 2017.

Hooton TM, Bradley SF, Cardenas DD, et al. Diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of catheter-associated urinary tract infection in adults: 2009 International Clinical Practice Guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2010;50(5):625-663.

Last reviewed June 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD  Last Last updated: 7/17/2019