Bright Green Dye: A Simple Plan That Could Save Lives

01 March 2019, Tim Burton - 

Getting an infection is a risk that any patient takes when they receive hospital treatment and approximately 80% of UTI infections acquired in hospital worldwide come as a result of using a catheter.

Professor Toby Jenkins at the University of Bath is using funding from The Urology Foundation to look for a new method of detecting these UTIs so that they can be treated before they become serious. His research could reduce the complications of having a catheter, reduce the length of stay in hospital for patients across the country, and save the NHS millions.

Catheters are a common part of urology treatment

It is estimated that around 1 in 5 patients admitted to NHS hospitals each year will require a catheter to be inserted into their urethra.

Catheters are a small tube that is run up a patient’s urethra and into the bladder. They are designed to allow urine out of a patient’s body when doing so naturally would be difficult. They are often used on patients who have undergone an operation, including a lot of urological surgeries. The tube will allow the urine to run out of the body and collect in a bag that is attached to the leg.

A blockage in the catheter can become a serious problem

In the UK, approximately 15-25% of patients admitted to NHS hospitals each year will require urethral catheterisation. On top of this, outside of hospital it is estimated that 3% of people living at home and up to 15% in care homes are catheterised. Some catheters are used on a long-term basis as a way of treating urinary incontinence or retention (which is when there is still urine in the bladder after going to the toilet). The longer these catheters are used, the more chance there is of developing infections which can cause catheter blockages. This can lead to distention of the bladder, and septicaemia.

Catheter-associated urinary tract infections have been identified as a priority area for the NHS, with healthcare-associated infections costing some £1bn per year. As well as the economic burden and a concern for patient outcomes, the NHS has a commitment to reducing the burden of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and infection-prevention is a key part of this. If there are fewer infections we will use fewer antibiotics.

TUF-funded researcher, Professor Toby Jenkins, has a simple solution

image for Toby Jenkins article

Toby is using funding from The Urology Foundation to test a new method for detecting catheter associated UTIs. Toby is looking at introducing a small capsule into the leg bag that patients get with their catheter. In the event of a possible UTI, this capsule will release a bright green dye that can act as an early warning of catheter blockage. When a nurse or doctor sees the dye, they can change the catheter before any damage happens.

Toby is hoping that his research will demonstrate that the dye can have a dramatic impact and that it will start to be used with patients across the NHS before long. If the dye can be proved to work, it could help reduce hospital stays, save the NHS millions in having to treat infections, reduce our reliance on antibiotics, and most importantly, save lives.

If you would like to help us fund more life changing research like Toby’s you can donate today.


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