Although intermittent catheters are immediately removed, indwelling catheterization may lead to decreased ambulation and participation in physical therapy, critical components to post-total knee arthroplasty (TKA) management. Therefore, this study aimed to compare the effect of catheterization treatments on (1) postoperative ambulation distances, (2) deep vein thromboses (DVTs), and (3) pulmonary emboli (PEs) following TKA.
A total of 9123 prospectively collected primary TKA patients were assessed based on postoperative catheter status. Patient demographics, Charlson Comorbidity Indices, body mass indices, DVT prophylaxes, first ambulation distances, DVTs, and PEs were collected at approximately mean 12 months of follow-up. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed with independent t-tests and multiple linear regression models in order to compare catheterization techniques.
There were 1193 patients who had urinary retention and treated with either indwelling only (62%, n = 734), both indwelling and intermittent catheterizations (13%, n = 160), or intermittent only (25%, n = 299). Multivariate analyses found that indwelling catheter-only use had an 11% decrease in ambulation distance (P < .001). Additionally, the indwelling catheterization-only group was found to be at increased risk of DVTs (odds ratio 2.605, P < .001), even after controlling for DVT prophylaxes (odds ratio 2.807, P < .001).
This study showed that the use of an indwelling catheter for treatment of urinary retention significantly decreased TKA patient ambulation distance and subsequently increased the risk for DVTs. This information is important as we would recommend the treatment with intermittent catheterization rather than indwelling catheters to decrease the risk of immobilization and postoperative DVTs.

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