Last reviewed 01/2018

Urinary tract infections that are caused by bacteria of faecal origin (the commonest cause) involve either the bladder, the upper urinary tract (ureter, pelvicalyceal system, kidney) or both.

Some facts about UTIs:

  • the bladder is most commonly affected
  • females are more commonly affected than men
  • at least 50% of women suffer a UTI sometime in their life

The pathogens may reach the urinary tract

  • via haematogenous or lymphatic spread
  • as an ascending infection from the urethra
  • during bladder catheterization or instrumentation (1).

In females the likely route of infection is via the urethra (which is only 3 cm long). Probably the organisms are spread from perineal skin, particularly during intercourse.

Usually the bladder is flushed by the frequent passage of newly produced urine (2). However if for some reason there is bladder stasis (e.g. immobility, dehydration) then the bacteria can multiply.

Faecal organisms can also enter the bladder via spread from the bloodstream. This particularly true of elderly or immobilised patients.