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7.01 Lower Urinary Tract Infection (Cystitis)


Presentation

The patient (usually female) complains of urinary frequency and urgency, internal dysuria, and suprapubic pain. There may have been some antecedent trauma (sexual intercourse) to inoculate the bladder, and there may be blood in the urine (hemorrhagic cystitis). Usually, there is no labial irritation, external dysuria or vaginal discharge (which would suggest vaginitis); and no fever, chills, nausea, flank pain, or costovertebral angle tenderness (which would suggest an upper urinary tract infection.)

What to do:

What not to do:

Discussion

Lower UTI or cystitis is a superficial bacterial infection of the bladder or urethra. The majority of these infections involve Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus saprophyticus or enterococci. The urine dip stick is a reasonable screening measure that can direct therapy if results are positive. Under the microscope, in a clean sediment (free of epithelial cells) one white cell per 400x field suggests a significant pyuria, although clinicians accustomed to imperfect samples usually set a threshold of 3-5 WBCs per field. In addition, Trichomonas may be appreciated swimming in the urinary sediment, indicating a different etiology for urinary symptoms or associated vaginitis. In a straightforward lower UTI, urine culture may be reserved for cases which fail to resolve with single-dose or 3 day therapy. In complicated or doubtful cases, however, or with recurrences, a urine culture before initial treatment may be helpful.

Risk factors for UTI in women include pregnancy, sexual activity, use of diaphragms or spermicides, failure to void post coitally, and history of prior UTI. Healthy women may be expected to suffer a few episodes of lower urinary tract infection in a lifetime without indicating any major structural problem, but recurrences at short intervals suggest inadequate treatment or underlying abnormalities. Young men, however, have longer urethras and far fewer lower UTIs, and probably should be evaluated urologically after just one episode unless they have a risk factor such as an uncircumcised foreskin, HIV infection or homosexual activity and respond to initial treatment. In sexually active men, consider urethritis or prostatitis as the etiology. In men over 50 years old, there is a rapid increase in UTI due to prostate hypertrophy, obstruction and instrumentation.

References:


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from Buttaravoli & Stair: COMMON SIMPLE EMERGENCIES
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Mark Smith, MD
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