Silver Catheters in Preventing UTIs and Saving Lives

November 4, 2019; ( by Ben Taylor; There are many undeniable uses of the anti-microbial mineral silver, both in mainstream as well as natural healthcare. One of the most effective and best examples of the efficacy of the simple mineral silver as an anti-bacterial agent is in the construction of urinary catheters. When it comes to health issues involving a non-functional or under functioning bladder, catheters often become a necessary inconvenience. But the use of catheters comes with a substantial risk of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) that can be very difficult to heal and more often than not tend to be a re-occurring problem with catheter users. This article gives critical information of the use of silver catheters in preventing UTIs and saving lives.

Catheters are thin tubes inserted into the urinary tract to drain urinary fluids when the bladder becomes unable to do so naturally. Most are made of Teflon (PTFE), latex, silicone, polyurethane (PU), polyethylene (PE), polyvinylchloride (PVC), and nylon. In addition to their inability to repel bacterial growth, some of these materials are known to be carcinogenic. This fact may also be an issue associated with long-term catheter usage. Regardless of the potential carcinogen danger, the issue being addressed here is the always present bacterial infection concerns whether the use is temporary or long-term.

The CDC claims that 75% of all UTIs are associated with or caused by catheters and up to 25% of all hospitalized patients receive urinary catheters during their stay. This could be as many as 600,000 UTIs yearly. It is estimated that up to 30% of patients using short-term catheters develop bacteriuria infections. Since these numbers come from mainstream sources which tend to underreport anything to do with their practices, the numbers may well be much higher.

There is a practice by many hospitals and doctors to automatically call for catheters after surgery even if the patient may not really need it. It is often a matter of convenience for the hospital staff as it is easier to deal with catheters and urine bags than it is to handle and empty bed pans or help patients to the bathroom. Because of this the incidents of in hospital UTIs has increased exponentially. The O’Neill Review in 2014 estimated that this increase in UTIs would lead to 10 million deaths world-wide from drug-resistant infections each year by 2050.

A bacterium triggers UTIs after attaching to microscopic imperfections in irregular surface areas of the catheters. From there the bacteria begin to rapidly colonize the catheter surfaces producing a bacterial matrix/mucous bio-film. Once this bio-film forms, the bacteria usually becomes resistant to commonly used mainstream anti-microbial/antibiotic agents. At this point, the bacteria can quickly spread to the bladder and urinary tract and becomes a full blown infection. UTI studies have shown that when bacteria is introduced into the bladder, bio-film-like pods can invade bladder lining cells causing “persistent reservoirs” of bacteria that can periodically grow into a full blown infection.

In fighting infections associated with catheters, there is a very simple solution that will significantly reduce or even stop this problem. That solution is the use of catheters infused or coated with silver. Silver is a metal/mineral (as is copper- which at one time was used to plate door knobs) that has the ability to kill one-celled organisms on contact. The literature review stated, “The ability of silver to kill bacteria has long been established in the literature. It has been used as an antibacterial agent in humans for centuries, particularly in the area of wound healing (Landsdown 2006, Landsdown and Williams 2007). This has included the use of silver sulphadiazine creams (Silvadene) and more recently, silver-releasing dressings (Silverlon). The antibacterial activity of silver occurs when ions form in solution (Landsdown 2006), adding bacteria to a solution of silver ions leads to bacterial death (Scierholz et al., 2002). Silver ions kill bacteria by damaging the oxygen metabolizing enzymes of their cell membranes (Percival et. al., 2005).” Note: All silver particles in liquid and even in damper air environments slowly release silver ions.

Also, researchers at the University of Michigan found that silver-alloy-coated catheters, not only prevent urinary tract infections in patients, but are also cost effective. This was published in 2014 in the Archives of Internal medicine under the title, “The Potential Clinical and Economic Benefits of Silver Alloy Urinary Catheters in Preventing Urinary Tract Infection”. Health author Mark Fendrick, MD, an internal medicine associate professor and the University of Michigan’s Consortium for Health Outcomes, Innovation and Cost Effectiveness Studies co-director, stated concerning silver catheters, “The health system may also benefit by lower health care costs.”.

There are claims by many insurers that the use of silver catheters is too cost prohibitive and therefore are not covered. But any claims of prohibitive costs associated with silver catheters so as not to be covered by insurance is simply bogus. Although silver-coated catheters do cost more than the non-silver catheters, the much greater cost is that of constantly treating reoccurring and life threatening Urinary Tract Infections. Sanjay Saint, M.D, M.P.H., Research Investigator and Professor of Medicine and his research partners estimated that the cost of detecting and treating a symptomatic short-term urinary tract infection was minimally $400 and the cost of a bacteremia infection at least $2,000. “We thought that was a conservative estimate,” Saint said. “We actually used a range and we said it can range between $835 and $4,082.”

Sanjay Saint, M.D, M.P.H., Research Investigator and Professor of Medicine, also wrote in his research entitled, “Translating Health Care–Associated Urinary Tract Infection Prevention Research into Practice via the Bladder Bundle” the following: “We found that in certain patient populations a silver-alloy catheter should be strongly considered to prevent the common, costly and morbid complication of urinary tract infections.” “Researchers looked at data from patients that used a catheter for two to 10 days, in hospital units for intensive care, post-surgical care, general medical care and urology care. Rates of symptomatic urinary tract infection were reduced by 47 percent and the chance of bacteremia, bacteria getting into blood, by 44 percent.”

When considering the cost of silver catheters as opposed to non-silver, we should ask, how do we compare a few extra dollars per catheter to the value of a life? UTIs, especially in more elderly bed-ridden patients have become an increasing cause of untimely deaths. My 97 year old father died from a UTI in a nursing home before our family even knew he had a UTI. The best advice on catheters should you or a loved one find it absolutely necessary to use them is to demand that only silver catheters be used. If you cannot move to a hospital or switch to a doctor willing to prescribe them, the best option is to simply buy them yourself. It may save your or your loved one’s life.


More Information Links on Silver Catheter Research:

The Impact of Silver-Coating of a Urinary Catheter on Bacterial Adherence…

A Randomized Crossover Study of Silver-Coated Urinary Catheters in Hospitalized Patients

Effectiveness of a Silver-Alloy and Hydrogel Coated Urinary Catheter on Symptomatic Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections

Ben Taylor is the President of Utopia Silver Supplements found at

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