Catheter 'alert' system changes color of urine when superbugs present

U.K. researchers have developed a prototype that could aid in the early detection of urinary tract infections caused by antibiotic-resistant superbugs, which are costly and difficult to treat.

Before and after surgery, patients are commonly outfitted with urinary catheters. By applying a chemical coating that changes the color of urine when pathogenic bacteria are detected, a team from the University of Bath has demonstrated the ability to anticipate infection complications up to 12 hours in advance of symptoms.

"Catheter infections are such a common problem that currently anyone using a catheter for more than seven days is given a course of antibiotics to prevent infection," Toby Jenkins, PhD, research lead, said in a statement. "The coating we've developed will give a 12 hour warning before an infection causes a blockage, meaning that only patients with an infection need to be treated with antibiotics."

The researchers plan to develop the prototype further in partnership with a medical device firm. 

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