Urological complications are the major cause of ill health in patients with spina bifida. Urinary sepsis accounted for the majority of admissions in patients with spina bifida. As the patient grows older, changes occur in the adult bladder, leading to increases in storage pressure and consequent risk of deterioration of renal function, which may occur insidiously.
A 34-year-old male spinal bifida patient had been managing neuropathic bladder by penile sheath. Intravenous urography revealed normal kidneys. This patient was advised intermittent catheterisations. But self-catheterisation was not possible because of long, overhanging prepuce and marked spinal curvature. This patient developed repeated urine infections. Five years later, ultrasound examination of urinary tract revealed hydronephrotic right kidney with echogenic debris within the collecting system. There was no evidence of dilatation of the ureter near the vesicoureteric junction. The left kidney appeared normal. There was no evidence of calculus disease seen in either kidney. Indwelling urethral catheter drainage was established.
Two years later, MAG-3 renogram revealed normal uptake and excretion by left kidney. The right kidney showed little functioning tissue. Following a routine change of urethral catheter this patient became unwell. Ultrasound examination revealed hydronephrotic right kidney containing thick hyper-echoic internal septations and debris in the right renal pelvis suspicious of pyonephrosis. Under both ultrasound and fluoroscopic guidance, an 8 French pig tail catheter was inserted into the right renal collecting system. 150 ml of turbid urine was aspirated immediately. This patient developed large left pleural effusion, collapse/consolidation of the left lower lobe, a large fluid collection in the abdomen extending into the pelvis and expired twenty days later because of sepsis and respiratory failure.
Although penile sheath drainage may be convenient for a spina bifida patient and the carers, hydronephrosis can occur insidiously. With recurrent urine infections, hydronephrotic kidney can become pyonephrosis, which is life-threatening. Therefore, every effort should be made to carry out intermittent catheterisations along with antimuscarinic drug therapy.
Some tetraplegic patients may wish to undergo urological procedures without anaesthesia, but these patients can develop autonomic dysreflexia if cystoscopy and vesical lithotripsy are performed without anaesthesia.
We describe three tetraplegic patients, who developed autonomic dysreflexia when cystoscopy and laser lithotripsy were carried out without anesthesia.
In two patients, who declined anaesthesia, blood pressure increased to more than 200/110 mmHg during cystoscopy. One of these patients developed severe bleeding from bladder mucosa and lithotripsy was abandoned. Laser lithotripsy was carried out under subarachnoid block a week later in this patient, and this patient did not develop autonomic dysreflexia.
The third patient with C-3 tetraplegia had undergone correction of kyphoscoliotic deformity of spine with spinal rods and pedicular screws from the level of T-2 to S-2. Pulmonary function test revealed moderate to severe restricted curve. This patient developed vesical calculus and did not wish to have general anaesthesia because of possible need for respiratory support post-operatively. Subarachnoid block was not considered in view of previous spinal fixation. When cystoscopy and laser lithotripsy were carried out under sedation, blood pressure increased from 110/50 mmHg to 160/80 mmHg.
These cases show that tetraplegic patients are likely to develop autonomic dysreflexia during cystoscopy and vesical lithotripsy, performed without anaesthesia. Health professionals should educate spinal cord injury patients regarding risks of autonomic dysreflexia, when urological procedures are carried out without anaesthesia. If spinal cord injury patients are made aware of potentially life-threatening complications of autonomic dysreflexia, they are less likely to decline anaesthesia for urological procedures. Subrachnoid block or epidural meperidine blocks nociceptive impulses from urinary bladder and prevents occurrence of autonomic dysreflexia. If spinal cord injury patients with lesions above T-6 decline anaesthesia, nifedipine 10 mg should be given sublingually prior to cystoscopy to prevent increase in blood pressure due to autonomic dysreflexia.
The Manchester Triage System is commonly used as the triage system in emergency departments of the UK. As per the Manchester Triage System, patients presenting with retention of urine to the accident and emergency department are categorized to yellow, which denotes that the ideal maximum time to first contact with a treating clinician will be 60 min. Cervical spinal cord injury patients, in whom urinary catheter is blocked, may develop suddenly headache, sweating, high blood pressure, cardiac dysrhythmia, convulsions, intracranial bleed, and acute neurogenic pulmonary oedema as a result of autonomic dysreflexia due to a distended bladder.
A 46-year-old male with C-6 tetraplegia developed urinary retention because of a blocked catheter. He was seen immediately on arrival in the spinal injuries unit. The blocked catheter was removed and a new catheter was about to be inserted. Then this patient said that the ceiling lights were very bright and glaring. Five milligrams of Nifedipine was given sublingually. This patient started having fits involving his head, face, neck and shoulders with loss of consciousness. A 14-French silicone Foley catheter was inserted per urethra without any delay and 300 ml of clear urine was drained. This patient recovered consciousness within 5 min. Computed tomography of the brain revealed no focal cerebral or cerebellar abnormality. There was no intra-cranial haemorrhage.
This case illustrates that spinal cord injury patients with lesion above T-6, who develop retention of urine because of a blocked catheter, may look apparently well, but these patients can develop suddenly life-threatening autonomic dysreflexia. Therefore, spinal cord injury patients, who present to the accident and emergency department or spinal units with a blocked urinary catheter, should be seen urgently although their vital signs may be stable on arrival. Increasing the awareness of staff in emergency departments regarding autonomic dysreflexia as well as education of the patient and carers will be useful in preventing this complication in persons with spinal cord injury.
Although complications related to suprapubic cystostomies are well documented, there is scarcity of literature on safety issues involved in long-term care of suprapubic cystostomy in spinal cord injury patients.
A 23-year-old female patient with tetraplegia underwent suprapubic cystostomy. During the next decade, this patient developed several catheter-related complications, as listed below: (1) Suprapubic catheter came out requiring reoperation. (2) The suprapubic catheter migrated to urethra through a patulous bladder neck, which led to leakage of urine per urethra. (3) Following change of catheter, the balloon of suprapubic catheter was found to be lying under the skin on two separate occasions. (4) Subsequently, this patient developed persistent, seropurulent discharge from suprapubic cystostomy site as well as from under-surface of pubis. (5) Repeated misplacement of catheter outside the bladder led to chronic leakage of urine along suprapubic tract, which in turn predisposed to inflammation and infection of suprapubic tract, abdominal wall fat, osteomyelitis of pubis, and abscess at the insertion of adductor longus muscle
Suprapubic catheter should be anchored securely to prevent migration of the tip of catheter into urethra and accidental dislodgment of catheter. While changing the suprapubic catheter, correct placement of Foley catheter inside the urinary bladder must be ensured. In case of difficulty, it is advisable to perform exchange of catheter over a guide wire. Ultrasound examination of urinary bladder is useful to check the position of the balloon of Foley catheter.
When urethral catheterisation is difficult or impossible in spinal cord injury patients, flexible cystoscopy and urethral catheterisation over a guide wire can be performed on the bedside, thus obviating the need for emergency suprapubic cystostomy. Spinal cord injury patients, who undergo flexible cystoscopy and urethral catheterisation over a guide wire, may develop potentially serious complications. (1) Persons with lesion above T-6 are susceptible to develop autonomic dysreflexia during cystoscopy and urethral catheterisation over a guide wire; nifedipine 5–10 milligrams may be administered sublingually just prior to the procedure to prevent autonomic dysreflexia. (2) Spinal cord injury patients are at increased risk for getting urine infections as compared to able-bodied individuals. Therefore, antibiotics should be given to patients who get haematuria or urethral bleeding following urethral catheterisation over a guide wire. (3) Some spinal cord injury patients may have a small capacity bladder; in these patients, the guide wire, which is introduced into the urinary bladder, may fold upon itself with the tip of guide wire entering the urethra. If this complication is not recognised and a catheter is inserted over the guide wire, the Foley catheter will then be misplaced in urethra despite using cystoscopy and guide wire.
It is well known in the literature that imaging has almost no value for diagnosis of superficial bladder cancer. However, wide gap exists between knowledge on diagnosis of bladder cancer and actual clinical practice.
Delay in diagnosis of bladder cancer in a male person with tetraplegia occurred because of reliance on negative flexible cystoscopy and single biopsy, negative ultrasound examination of urinary bladder, and computerised tomography of pelvis. Difficulties in scheduling cystoscopy also contributed to a delay of nearly ten months between the onset of haematuria and establishing a histological diagnosis of vesical malignancy in this patient. The time interval between transurethral resection and cystectomy was 42 days. This delay was mainly due to scheduling of surgery.
We learn from this case that doctors should be aware of the limitations of negative flexible cystoscopy and single biopsy, cytology of urine, ultrasound examination of urinary bladder, and computed tomography of pelvis for diagnosis of bladder cancer in spinal cord injury patients. Random bladder biopsies must be considered under general anaesthesia when there is high suspicion of bladder cancer. Spinal cord injury patients with lesions above T-6 may develop autonomic dysreflexia; therefore, one should be extremely well prepared to prevent or manage autonomic dysreflexia when performing cystoscopy and bladder biopsy. Spinal cord injury patients, who pass blood in urine, should be accorded top priority in scheduling of investigations and surgical procedures.
Spinal cord injury; Urinary bladder; Carcinoma; Suprapubic cystostomy; Cystoscopy
Never Events are serious, largely preventable patient safety incidents that should not occur if the available preventative measures have been implemented. We propose that a list of “Never Events” is created for spinal cord injury patients in order to improve the quality of care. To begin with, following two preventable complications related to management of neuropathic bladder may be included in this list of “Never Events.” (i) Severe ventral erosion of glans penis and penile shaft caused by indwelling urethral catheter; (ii) incorrect placement of a Foley catheter leading to inflation of Foley balloon in urethra. If a Never Event occurs, health professionals should report the incident through hospital risk management system to National Patient Safety Agency's Reporting and Learning System, communicate with the patient, family, and their carer as soon as possible about the incident, undertake a comprehensive root cause analysis of what went wrong, how, and why, and implement the changes that have been identified and agreed following the root cause analysis.
Neuropathic urinary bladder is often colonised by multidrug-resistant bacteria. We report a 64-year-old male spinal cord injury patient with paraplegia, who received gentamicin on empirical basis before undergoing suprapubic cystostomy, as antibiotic sensitivity report of urine was not available. This patient developed fulminate septicaemia. Although appropriate antibiotic therapy (meropenem) was started when this patient manifested features of sepsis, acute renal failure occurred and he expired. Inappropriate initial antimicrobial therapy was the major contributory factor for this patient's mortality. Learning points from this case are (1) never do a cystostomy without prior urine culture and appropriate antibiogram; (2) in a chronic spinal cord injury patient, full blood count, liver function tests, albumin level, and albumin to globulin ratio should be performed before any surgical procedure.
Following spinal cord injury, prostate undergoes atrophy probably due to interruption of neuro-hormonal pathways. The incidence of carcinoma of prostate is lower in patients with spinal cord injury above T-10 than in those with lesion below T-10.
A Caucasian male sustained T-4 paraplegia in 1991 at the age of 59-years. He had long-term indwelling urethral catheter. In May 1995, routine blood test showed prostate-specific antigen to be 17.7 mg/ml. Prostate biopsy revealed moderately differentiated primary adenocarcinoma of prostate; Gleason score was 3+3. Bone scans showed no evidence of metastatic bone disease. Bilateral orchidectomy was performed in September 1995. MRI of pelvis revealed no evidence of spread beyond prostatic capsule. There was no pelvic lymphadenopathy. In October 1996, this patient got chest infection and recovered fully after taking amoxicillin. In February 2001, he developed pneumonia and was prescribed cefuroxime intravenously. In March 2001, cystoscopy and electrohydraulic lithotripsy of vesical calculi were carried out. In August 2001, this patient was admitted to spinal unit for management of pressure sores. He expired on 28 June 2002 in local hospital. Cause of death was recorded as acute ventricular failure, congestive heart failure, chronic respiratory failure and spinal cord injury.
Although prostate gland undergoes atrophy in men who sustained spinal cord injury in early age, physicians should be vigilant and look for prostatic diseases particularly in men, who have sustained spinal cord injury during later period of life. Patients with cervical and upper dorsal lesions are at risk of developing potentially life-threatening chest complications after major surgical procedures including radical prostatectomy. Therefore, it may be advisable to consider chemoprevention of prostate cancer with Finasteride, especially in men, who sustained cervical and upper dorsal spinal cord injury during later part of their life.
Spinal cord injury patients are at risk for developing unusual complications such as autonomic dysreflexia while changing suprapubic cystostomy. We report a male patient with spina bifida in whom the Foley catheter was placed in the urethra during change of suprapubic cystostomy with serious consequences.
A male patient, born in 1972 with spina bifida and paraplaegia, underwent suprapubic cystostomy in 2003 because of increasing problems with urethral catheter. The patient would come to spinal unit for change of suprapubic catheter every four to six weeks. Two days after a routine catheter change in November 2009, this patient woke up in the morning and noticed that the suprapubic catheter had come out. He went straight to Accident and Emergency. The suprapubic catheter was changed by a health professional and this patient was sent home. But the suprapubic catheter did not drain urine. This patient developed increasing degree of pain and swelling in suprapubic region. He did not pass any urine per urethra. He felt sick and came to spinal unit five hours later. About twenty ml of contrast was injected through suprapubic catheter and X-rays were taken. The suprapubic catheter was patent; the catheter was not blocked. The Foley catheter could be seen going around in a circular manner through the urinary bladder into the urethra. The contrast did not opacify urinary bladder; but proximal urethra was seen. The tip of Foley catheter was lying in proximal urethra. The balloon of Foley catheter had been inflated in urethra. When the balloon of Foley catheter was deflated, this patient developed massive bleeding per urethra. A sterile 22 French Foley catheter was inserted through suprapubic track. The catheter drained bloody urine. He was admitted to spinal unit and received intravenous fluids and meropenem. Haematuria subsided after 48 hours. The patient was discharged home a week later in a stable condition.
This case shows that serious complications can occur during change of suprapubic catheter in patients with neuropathic bladder. After inserting a new catheter, health professionals should observe spinal cord injury patients for at least thirty minutes and ensure that (1) suprapubic catheter drains clear urine; (2) patients do not develop abdominal spasm or discomfort; (3) symptoms and signs of sepsis or autonomic dysreflexia are absent.
In female patients with neuropathic bladder, the urethra is closed permanently in order to avoid urine leak. Then Benchekroun hydraulic ileal valve is attached to urinary bladder, thus providing a continent stoma for performing intermittent catheterisations.
We present a female patient with spina bifida who underwent Benchekroun continent vesicostomy in 1993. This patient developed severe stenosis of Benchekroun stoma and stones in urinary bladder. Dilatation of stoma and vesicolithotomy were carried out in 1995. Vesical calculi recurred; suprapubic cystolithotomy was performed in 1999. In March 2000, catheterisation of stoma was not possible and emergency suprapubic cystostomy was done. In April 2000, endoscopy was attempted through Benchekroun stoma. It was not possible to insert ureterorenoscope beyond two inches. The track was completely blocked. In November 2001, X-ray of abdomen showed several vesical calculi; suprapubic cystolithotomy was performed.
In March 2005, this patient developed pain in abdomen. X-ray of abdomen showed a large vesical calculus. In June 2005, suprapubic catheter was removed and a cystoscope was introduced in to the bladder. Then electrohydraulic lithotripsy was performed. In 2007, this patient was concerned about the increasing swelling in lower abdomen. Computed tomography of abdomen revealed midline, lower abdominal wall hernia, which contained several loops of small bowel and ileal cystoplasty. The large hernia was uncomfortable and tender on coughing, but did not cause obstructive bowel symptoms. Surgical repair of hernia was considered. But this patient would require alternative way of urinary diversion because the current location of suprapubic catheter would almost lead to infection of prosthetic material used in reconstruction of the anterior abdominal wall. After discussing risks of operative procedures with patient and her husband, it was decided not to proceed with surgery.
This case is a poignant reminder to spinal cord physicians that novel surgical techniques should be viewed cautiously, and patients should be informed of potential complications of surgical procedures some of which could be irreversible.
We report infection of Brindley sacral anterior root stimulator in a spinal cord injury patient, who ultimately required removal of the implant. The consequences of failed implantation were severe constipation, and loss of reflex penile erection and bladder emptying.
A male patient, born in 1973, fell off the balcony while on holidays in Crete in 1993 and developed complete tetraplegia at C-5 level. In 1996, deafferentation of sacral nerve roots 2, 3 and 4 were carried out bilaterally. Brindley sacral anterior root stimulator was implanted. On eleventh post-operative day, blood stained fluid came out of sacral wound. Microbiology of exudates showed growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, sensitive to gentamicin. As discharge of serosanguinous fluid persisted, sacral wound was explored. In March 1997, induration and craggy swelling were noted at the site of receiver. There was discharge from the surgical wound in the back. Wound swab grew Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The receiver was taken out. Cables were retrieved and tunnelled in left flank. Laminectomy wound was left open. In May 1997, cables were removed from left flank through the laminectomy wound. Grommet was sliced down as much as possible without producing leak of cerebrospinal fluid. Histoacryl glue was used over the truncated grommet as a sealing agent. Microbiology of end of S-2 and S-3 cables showed growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which was sensitive to gentamicin. End of S-4 cable showed scanty growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella aerogenes. Review of this patient in January 1999 revealed presence of sinuses in dorsal wound exuding purulent material. The wound was explored; grommet and electrodes were removed. The consequences of failed implantation were severe constipation and loss of reflex penile erection and bladder emptying. This patient had to spend increasing amount of time for bowels management. Faecal incontinence limited his mobility. The problem with his bowels was affecting his confidence in doing anything, as the slightest movement could cause his bowels to work. The inconvenience and embarrassment of a bowel accident caused distress to the patient and to his mother.
This case illustrates that bacterial infection is a major problem in spinal cord injury patients who undergo implantation of medical devices. Further, this case underlines the need for honest discussion with spinal cord injury patients about possible complications of implantation of sacral anterior root stimulator and long-term consequences of an unsuccessful operation.
The consequences of spinal cord injury upon urinary bladder are readily recognised by patients and health care professionals, since neuropathic bladder manifests itself as urinary incontinence, or retention of urine. But health care professionals and persons with spinal cord injury may not be conversant with neuropathic dysmotility affecting the ureter and renal pelvis. We report an adult male patient with spinal cord injury, who developed bilateral hydronephrosis after he started managing neuropathic bladder by penile sheath drainage.
A male patient, born in 1971, sustained spinal cord injury following a motorbike accident in September 1988. In November 1988, intravenous urography showed normal upper tracts. He was advised spontaneous voiding with 2-3 catheterisations a day. In February 1995, this patient developed fever, chills and vomiting. Blood urea: 23.7 mmol/L; creatinine: 334 umol/L. Ultrasound revealed marked hydronephrosis of right kidney and mild hydronephrosis of left kidney. Bilateral nephrostomy was performed in March 1995. Right pyeloplasty was performed in May 1998. In July 2005, this patient developed urine infection and was admitted to a local hospital with fever and rigors. He developed septicaemia and required ventilation. Ultrasound examination of abdomen revealed bilateral hydronephrosis and multiple stones in left kidney. Percutaneous nephrostomy was performed on both sides. Subsequently, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy of left renal calculi was carried out. Right nephrostomy tube slipped out in January 2006; percutaneous nephrostomy was performed again. In June 2006, left ureteric antegrade stenting was performed and nephrostomy tube was removed. Currently, right kidney is drained by percutaneous nephrostomy and left kidney is drained by ureteric stent. This patient has indwelling urethral catheter.
It is possible that regular intermittent catheterisations along with anticholinergic medication right from the time of rehabilitation after this patient sustained paraplegia might have prevented the series of urological complications. Key components to successful management of external drainage of kidney in this patient are:  use of size 14 French pigtail catheter for long-term nephrostomy,  anchoring the catheter to skin to with Percufix catheter cuff to prevent accidental tug , replacing the nephrostomy dressing once a week by the same team in order to provide continuity of care, and  changing nephrostomy catheter every six months by a senior radiologist.
We review urological procedures performed on a spinal cord injury patient during three decades.
A 23-year-old male patient sustained T-12 paraplegia in 1971. In 1972, intravenous urography showed both kidneys functioning well; division of external urethral sphincter was performed. In 1976, reimplantation of left ureter (Lich-Gregoir) was carried out for vesicoureteric reflux. As reflux persisted, left ureter was reimplanted by psoas hitch-Boari flap technique in 1978.
This patient suffered from severe pain in legs; intrathecal injection of phenol was performed twice in 1979. The segment bearing the scarred spinal cord was removed in September 1982.
This patient required continuous catheter drainage. Deep median sphincterotomy was performed in 1984. As the left kidney showed little function, left nephroureterectomy was performed in 1986. In an attempt to obviate the need for an indwelling catheter, bladder neck resection and tri-radiate sphincterotomy were carried out in 1989; but these procedures proved futile. UroLume prosthesis was inserted and splinted the urethra from prostatic apex to bulb in October 1990. As mucosa was apposing distal to stent, in November 1990, second UroLume stent was hitched inside distal end of first. In March 1991, urethroscopy showed the distal end of the distal stent had fragmented; loose wires were removed. In April 1991, this patient developed sweating, shivering and haematuria. Urine showed Pseudomonas. Suprapubic cystostomy was performed. Suprapubic cystostomy was done again the next day, as the catheter was pulled out accidentally during night. Subsequently, a 16 Fr Silastic catheter was passed per urethra and suprapubic catheter was removed. In July 1993, Urocoil stent was put inside UroLume stent with distal end of Urocoil stent lying free in urethra. In September 1993, this patient was struggling to pass urine. Urocoil stent had migrated to bladder; therefore, Urocoil stent was removed and a Memotherm stent was deployed. This patient continued to experience trouble with micturition; therefore, Memotherm stent was removed. Currently, wires of UroLume stent protrude in to urethra, which tend to puncture the balloon of urethral Foley catheter, especially when the patient performs manual evacuation of bowels.
We failed to implement intermittent catheterisation along with anti-cholinergic therapy. Instead, we performed several urological procedures with unsatisfactory outcome; the patient lost his left kidney. We believe that honest review of clinical practice will help towards learning from past mistakes.
Distigmine, a long-acting anti-cholinesterase, is associated with side effects such as Parkinsonism, cholinergic crisis, and rhabdomyolysis. We report a spinal cord injury patient, who developed marked hydronephrosis and hydroureter after distigmine therapy, which led to a series of complications over subsequent years.
A 38-year-old male developed T-9 paraplegia in 1989. Intravenous urography, performed in 1989, showed normal kidneys, ureters and bladder. He was prescribed distigmine bromide orally and was allowed to pass urine spontaneously. In 1992, intravenous urography showed bilateral marked hydronephrosis and hydroureter. Distigmine was discontinued. He continued to pass urine spontaneously.
In 2006, intravenous urography showed moderate dilatation of both pelvicalyceal systems and ureters down to the level of urinary bladder. This patient was performing self-catheterisation only once a day. He was advised to do catheterisations at least three times a day. In December 2008, this patient developed haematuriawhich lasted for nearly four months.. He received trimethoprim, then cephalexin, followed by Macrodantin, amoxicillin and ciprofloxacin. In February 2009, intravenous urography showed calculus at the lower pole of left kidney. Both kidneys were moderately hydronephrotic. Ureters were dilated down to the bladder. Dilute contrast was seen in the bladder due to residual urine. This patient was advised to perform six catheterisations a day, and take propiverine hydrochloride 15 mg, three times a day. Microbiology of urine showed Klebsiella oxytoca, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterococcus faecalis. Cystoscopy revealed papillary lesions in bladder neck and trigone. Transurethral resection was performed. Histology showed marked chronic cystitis including follicular cystitis and papillary/polypoid cystitis. There was no evidence of malignancy.
Distigmine therapy resulted in marked bilateral hydronephrosis and hydroureter. Persistence of hydronephrosis after omitting distigmine, and presence of residual urine in bladder over many years probably predisposed to formation of polypoid cystitis and follicular cystitis, and contributed to prolonged haematuria, which occurred after an episode of urine infection. This case illustrates the dangers of prescribing distigmine to promote spontaneous voiding in spinal cord injury patients. Instead of using distigmine, spinal cord injury patients should be advised to consider intermittent catheterisation together with oxybutynin or propiverine to achieve complete, low-pressure emptying of urinary bladder.
A 36-year-old male sustained fracture of first lumbar vertebra, splenic tear and paraplegia in a motorcycle accident in 2001; splenectomy was performed.
In 2008, he presented with temperature and feeling rough. With a diagnosis of urine infection, he was prescribed ciprofloxacin, followed by trimethoprim, amoxicillin, and gentamicin, as temperature did not subside. White cell count was 21.2 × 109/L; lymphocytes were 13.05 × 109/L (1.00 – 4.00). Therefore, computerised tomography (CT) of chest and abdomen was performed. Thrombus was present in pulmonary arteries bilaterally involving the lobar and segmental branches. Enlarged lymph nodes were seen in axillae, chest, abdomen and inguinal regions. Radiological diagnosis was lymphoma. Cell marker showed an excess of large granular lymphocytes and activated lymphocytes. The Glandular Fever Slide Test was positive. Subsequently, Paul Bunnell test was also positive. Epstein Barr virus serology was consistent with recent Epstein Barr virus infection. Antibiotic was omitted; enoxaparin was prescribed for pulmonary artery thrombosis.
Learning points from this case: (1) Although routine administration of antibiotic to a spinal cord injury patient with pyrexia may be acceptable in outpatient setting, other possibilities such as infection by multi-drug resistant organism, viral infection, venous or, arterial thrombosis should be considered if a patient does not respond promptly to antibacterial therapy. (2) When full blood count showed lymphocytosis (comprising > 50% of white blood cells) with atypical morphology, lymphocyte surface markers, Paul Bunnell test, and Epstein Barr virus serology should be performed. These tests would have led to a diagnosis of infectious mononucleosis, and abdominal imaging studies could have been avoided. (3) Lymphoid hyperplasia is the hallmark of infectious mononucleosis; therefore, we should have suspected glandular fever rather than lymphoma when CT scan revealed enlarged lymph nodes in abdomen, mediastinum, axillae and inguinal regions in this patient, who had lymphocytosis with atypical morphology. (4) A soft tissue mass, situated inferior to left hemidiaphragm in this asplenic patient, was misinterpreted as lymph nodes; review of CT led to the correct diagnosis of splenunculus. (5) Acute infection with Epstein Barr virus may lead to transient induction of anti-phospholipid antibodies, which can cause vascular thrombosis. (6) This case illustrates the value of reviewing test results and discussion with senior doctors, as these measures help to recognize medical errors and improve patient care.
Indwelling urethral catheter is often used in male spinal cord injury patients to provide drainage to neuropathic bladder. If the balloon of a Foley catheter is inflated in urethra or, when a properly inserted Foley catheter is later pulled and thereby, the Foley balloon comes to lie in urethra, an excessive length of catheter will remain outside the penis. This sign is termed "long catheter sign". Long catheter sign will also be positive when Foley catheter slips out of urinary bladder in situations where Foley balloon is ruptured by a spiky vesical calculus or deflated due to a defective valve.
A fifty-year-old Caucasian male with paraplegia at T-5 level had been managing neuropathic bladder by long-term indwelling urethral catheter. During his stay in spinal unit, the patient felt that there had been a tug on the drainage tube when he was being turned during night as part of the routine care for relief of pressure. Next morning, a health professional noticed that a long segment of catheter was lying outside penis. There was no bleeding from urethral meatus. Catheter continued to drain urine, which was yellowish in colour. Urine output was satisfactory. This patient did not develop any clinical feature of autonomic dysreflexia nor was he feeling unwell. In view of positive long catheter sign, radiological studies were performed to check the position of Foley catheter, which confirmed the clinical impression of incorrectly positioned Foley catheter. The catheter was removed; flexible cystoscopy was performed. A 16 Fr, 20 ml balloon Foley catheter was inserted over a 0.032" guide wire. Following this procedure, a considerably shorter length of Foley catheter remained outside the penis.
Positive long catheter sign indicates that the Foley catheter is placed incorrectly and needs repositioning urgently. Prompt recognition of long catheter sign and immediate repositioning of Foley catheter will help to prevent complications such as chronic distension of urinary bladder, urine infection, and pressure necrosis of urethra especially if Foley balloon remains inflated within urethra for a long period. In this patient, use of a Foley catheter with 20 ml balloon, and securing the drainage tube to thigh with two straps, helped to prevent inadvertent pull of Foley balloon into the urethra.
The spontaneous rupture of an infected renal cyst is a rare event. Spontaneous rupture with drainage to the exterior through a surgical scar has not been reported previously.
A 49-year-old male with tetraplegia had undergone extended right pyelolithotomy in 1999. Deroofing and marsupialisation of a cyst in the upper pole of the right kidney was performed in 2003. Subsequently there was recurrence of a thick-walled cystic space-occupying lesion in the upper pole of the right kidney. Thick pus was aspirated from the renal cyst on six occasions between September 2003 and November 2004. In March 2006, ultrasound examination revealed a cyst measuring 6.2 cm in diameter in the upper pole of the right kidney. Aspiration was planned when the renal cyst reached 7.5 cm in diameter. However, 11 months later, the cyst ruptured spontaneously and drained through the previous surgical scar in the flank, while the patient was recovering from a severe chest infection in the spinal unit. Ultrasound examination showed a fistulous tract running between the renal cyst and the abdominal wall. Repeated minor trauma sustained during turning, hoisting and chest physiotherapy all may have contributed to the rupture of the infected renal cyst and drainage through a weak spot in the abdominal wall.
In hindsight, we might have prevented rupture of the renal cyst had we considered aspiration of the renal cyst before it reached 7.5 cm in diameter, although this 7.5 cm diameter, as the threshold for percutaneous aspiration, is an arbitrary setting. This patient could have been advised to wear an abdominal corset to protect the right flank from pressure applied unintentionally during turning, hoisting or assisted coughing.
Increased spasms in spinal cord injury (SCI) patients, whose spasticity was previously well controlled with intrathecal baclofen therapy, are due to (in order of frequency) drug tolerance, increased stimulus, low reservoir volume, catheter malfunction, disease progression, human error, and pump mechanical failure. We present a SCI patient, in whom bladder calculi acted as red herring for increased spasticity whereas the real cause was spontaneous extrusion of catheter from intrathecal space.
A 44-year-old male sustained a fracture of C5/6 and incomplete tetraplegia at C-8 level. Medtronic Synchromed pump for intrathecal baclofen therapy was implanted 13 months later to control severe spasticity. The tip of catheter was placed at T-10 level. The initial dose of baclofen was 300 micrograms/day of baclofen, administered by a simple continuous infusion. During a nine-month period, he required increasing doses of baclofen (875 micrograms/day) to control spasticity. X-ray of abdomen showed multiple radio opaque shadows in the region of urinary bladder. No malfunction of the pump was detected. Therefore, increased spasticity was attributed to bladder stones. Electrohydraulic lithotripsy of bladder stones was carried out successfully. Even after removal of bladder stones, this patient required further increases in the dose of intrathecal baclofen (950, 1050, 1200 and then 1300 micrograms/day). Careful evaluation of pump-catheter system revealed that the catheter had extruded spontaneously and was lying in the paraspinal space at L-4, where the catheter had been anchored before it entered the subarachnoid space. A new catheter was passed into the subarachnoid space and the tip of catheter was located at T-8 level. The dose of intrathecal baclofen was decreased to 300 micrograms/day.
Vesical calculi acted as red herring for resurgence of spasticity. The real cause for increased spasms was spontaneous extrusion of whole length of catheter from subarachnoid space. Repeated bending forwards and straightening of torso for pressure relief and during transfers from wheel chair probably contributed to spontaneous extrusion of catheter from spinal canal in this patient.
Men with spinal cord injury (SCI) appear to have a greater incidence of bacterial colonisation of genital skin as compared to neurologically normal controls. We report a male patient with paraplegia who developed rapidly progressive infection of scrotal skin, which resulted in localised necrosis of scrotum (Fournier's gangrene).
This male patient developed paraplegia at T-8 level 21 years ago at the age of fifteen years. He has been managing his bladder by wearing a penile sheath. He noticed redness and swelling on the right side of the scrotum, which rapidly progressed to become a black patch. A wound swab yielded growth of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Necrotic tissue was excised. Culture of excised tissue grew MRSA. A follow-up wound swab yielded growth of MRSA and mixed anaerobes. The wound was treated with regular application of povidone-iodine spray. He made good progress, with the wound healing gradually.
It is likely that the presence of a condom catheter, increased skin moisture in the scrotum due to urine leakage, compromised personal hygiene, a neurogenic bowel and subtle dysfunction of the immune system contributed to colonisation, and then rapidly progressive infection in this patient. We believe that spinal cord injury patients and their carers should be made aware of possible increased susceptibility of SCI patients to opportunistic infections of the skin. Increased awareness will facilitate prompt recourse to medical advice, when early signs of infection are present.
Memokath urethral sphincter stents are used to facilitate bladder emptying in patients with spinal cord injury, but long term follow-up has not been reported.
Case series of ten men with spinal cord injury who underwent insertion of Memokath stents and were followed for up to nine years.
Within four years, the stent had to be removed in nine out of ten patients because of: extensive mucosal proliferation causing obstruction to the lumen of the stent; stone around the proximal end of the stent, incomplete bladder emptying, and recurrent urinary infections; migration of the stent into the bladder related to digital evacuation of bowels; large residual urine; concretions within the stent causing obstruction to flow of urine, and partial blockage of the stent causing frequent episodes of autonomic dysreflexia. In one patient the stent continued to function satisfactorily after nine years.
The Memokath stent has a role as a temporary measure for treatment of detrusor-sphincter dyssynergia in selected SCI patients who do not get recurrent urinary infection and do not require manual evacuation of bowels.
We present a case to illustrate controversies in percutaneous drainage of infected, perinephric haematoma in a tetraplegic patient, who had implantation of baclofen pump in anterior abdominal wall on the same side as perinephric haematoma.
A 56-year-old male with C-4 tetraplegia had undergone implantation of programmable pump in the anterior abdominal wall for intrathecal infusion of baclofen to control spasticity. He developed perinephric haematoma while he was taking warfarin as prophylactic for deep vein thrombosis. Perinephric haematoma became infected with a resistant strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and required percutaneous drainage. Positioning this patient on his abdomen without anaesthesia, for insertion of a catheter from behind, was not a realistic option. Administration of general anaesthesia in this patient in the radiology department would have been hazardous.
Results and Conclusion
Percutaneous drainage was carried out by anterior approach under propofol sedation. The site of entry of percutaneous catheter was close to cephalic end of baclofen pump. By carrying out drainage from anterior approach, and by keeping this catheter for ten weeks, we took a risk of causing infection of the baclofen pump site, and baclofen pump with a resistant strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The alternative method would have been to anaesthetise the patient and position him prone for percutaneous drainage of perinephric collection from behind. This would have ensured that the drainage track was far away from the baclofen pump with minimal risk of infection of baclofen pump, but at the cost of incurring respiratory complications in a tetraplegic subject.
To present a protocol of a prospective, cohort study in which four groups of spinal cord injury (SCI) patients will participate. (Patients with indwelling urethral catheter; patients who perform intermittent catheterisation without wearing a penile sheath; patients who perform intermittent catheterisation and wear penile sheath as well; and patients with penile sheath drainage).
(1) What is the incidence of symptomatic urinary infection in men with spinal cord injury who use different types of bladder drainage? (2) Which are predisposing factors for the occurrence of symptomatic urinary infection in men with spinal cord injury who practise different methods of bladder drainage? (3) What is the incidence of catheter and urinary drainage system-related adverse events in the four groups of SCI patients?
The criteria for inclusion are as follow: (1) Male patients with neuropathic bladder due to spinal cord injury, who are registered with the Regional Spinal Injuries Centre, Southport, England. (2) Age: 18 years or above. (3) Patients who are willing to give informed consent for participation in the study. (4) Patients willing to be contacted every two weeks by a staff of the spinal unit for 36 months. (5) Patients who are willing to maintain an accurate record of adverse events related to urinary catheter and urinary drainage system and predisposing factors for the occurrence of symptomatic urinary infection. (6) Patients, who are stabilised in a particular method of bladder drainage, and therefore, unlikely to make a permanent change in the method of bladder drainage (e.g. from penile sheath drainage to the use of long-term indwelling catheter) during a foreseeable future.
The participants will be observed for a period of 36 months. A staff of the spinal injuries unit will contact the participants by telephone every two weeks on a mutually agreed day and time. The information obtained during this standardised telephonic interview conducted once in two weeks will be entered in a database. When a participant develops symptom(s) suggestive of urinary infection, he will undergo urine and blood tests, and imaging studies of the urinary tract.
This study will provide information regarding the occurrence of symptomatic urinary infection, predisposing factors for development of urinary infection, and adverse events related to urinary catheter and urinary drainage system in SCI patients using different methods of bladder drainage.