Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Southampton are hoping to improve the lives of patients who use urinary catheters by reducing infections and long-term discomfort.

A new clinical trial will test whether a new design of catheter can overcome some of the issues experienced by long-term users which can have a hugely detrimental effect on their lives.

Glasgow Caledonian Professor Suzanne Hagen, who is the Scottish Lead and Co-Investigator on the Catheter Designs, Evaluation and Trial (CaDeT), and Dr Cathy Murphy, the CaDeT Chief Investigator at the University of Southampton, have just started recruiting patients.

In the UK, around 90,000 people use urinary catheters. These are flexible tubes which are inserted into the bladder to drain urine.

Catheters can be necessary for people who are unable to control or empty their bladder for a variety of reasons, such as obstructions in the urethra, prostate problems, or neurological disorders.

The standard catheter currently used worldwide is the Foley catheter, but the design has remained largely unchanged for 80 years.

New innovations in catheter design could help to reduce the risk of complications and improve patients’ quality of life, but so far there has been very little research into how effective and safe these new designs are.

Now, the CaDeT clinical trial is testing whether a new design of catheter called the Optitip could provide a safe and more cost-effective alternative. The Optitip has specific features aimed at reducing infections and other complications.

Professor Hagen is a Chartered Statistician, Professor of Health Services Research in the School of Health and Life Sciences, and Deputy Director of the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP RU). She also co-leads the Ageing Well Research Group in the Research Centre for Health (ReaCH).

She said: “We hope this research will help the many thousands of catheter users in Scotland overcome the side-effects that so many of them experience.

“The CaDeT trial will assess whether a group of patients using the Optitip catheter has less urinary infections than another group using the traditional Foley catheter.

“The research builds on our 20 years’ experience in delivering robust multicentre trials and systematic reviews of interventions to treat incontinence.”

The trial, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, will recruit 310 participants in total over the next 18 months at seven sites across the UK, with 100 being recruited in Scotland.

“We are delighted that our partners at NHS Lanarkshire have recruited the first trail participant and our second Scottish site at NHS Fife will begin recruiting in around a month,” said Professor Hagen.

The number of infections, catheter changes, blockages, hospital stays and costs will be recorded for each patient over the course of a year to see if the Optitip reduces the burden on patients and is a viable option for use in the NHS.

“Glasgow Caledonian will make a significant contribution to generating crucial evidence about the safety and effectiveness of this alternative catheter design,” said Dr Kirsteen Goodman, Senior Trial Manager for CaDeT at the NMAHP Research Unit.