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The purpose of this study was to assess adverse events associated with diagnostic urethral catheterization (UC) in young children and to determine their impact on the patient and their family.
This was a prospective cohort study conducted in the emergency department of a tertiary-care pediatric hospital. All 3- to 24-month-old children with fever who had a diagnostic UC were eligible. Parents who consented to participate were contacted by phone within 7 to 10 days after the UC to answer a standardized questionnaire inquiring about complications. The primary outcome was the occurrence of an unfavourable event in the seven days following UC, defined as painful urination, genital pain, urinary retention, hematuria or secondary urinary tract infection. Secondary outcomes included the need for further medical care and the need for parents to miss school or work.
Of the 199 patients who completed the study, 41 (21%) reported a complication: painful urination in 19 (10%) children, genital pain in 16 (8%), urinary retention in 11 (6%), gross hematuria in 9 (5%), and secondary urinary tract infection in 1 (0.5%). Three (1%) parents reported the need for further medical care and three (1%) missed work. Two independent variables (male sex and age 12-23 months) were associated with a higher risk of adverse events.
Urethral catheterization is associated with adverse events in 21% of young children in the week following the procedure. Accordingly, this procedure should be used judiciously in children, considering its potential to cause unfavourable events.
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