Misdiagnosed UTIs in Women

At least 1 in 5 patients are being misdiagnosed when it comes to urinary tract infections. According to a new study, the standard test for UTIs is failing to catch bacteria in the urine. UTIs are most commonly detected in women because their anatomy makes them more susceptible.

Recently a new diagnosis of ‘urethral syndrome’ has been debated by researchers who suggest that the symptoms are psychosomatic.  With burning during urination, inability to empty the bladder and lower abdominal pain, UTIs can be very uncomfortable. Still many patients with these symptoms are testing negative and receive no treatment.

Researchers decided to run a more sensitive test called quantitative polymerase chain reaction which can detect minute quantities of bacteria in the urine of patients who have tested negative using the standard method. E. coli and S. sapharophyticus were found in 96 percent of samples tested. The standard test only found 81 percent of the samples to be positive for bacteria. Using both methods 98 percent of women who presented with symptoms were diagnosed with a UTI, suggesting that almost all women with symptoms of a UTI and negative results to standard testing, do actually have E. coli infections.

The results open a lot of questions for those who present with symptoms. Doctors may begin to acknowledge these symptoms and treat them rather than dismiss the complaints of their patients. With antibiotic resistance on the rise, treating anyone who has symptoms of a UTI without testing could be a slippery slope. Researchers are also working to develop a method of flushing bacteria from the bladder without the use of antibiotics, due to urinary tract infections being one of the most common infections that doctors treat with antibiotics.

Though the study is not complete it does accomplish the task of dismissing a diagnosis of urethral syndrome which essentially tells patients that their discomfort is imagined.