Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) After Surgery

Nurse handing a surgery patient a glass of water
ntmw/Getty Images

If you had surgery and now have a urinary tract infection (UTI), you may wonder whether these two things related. It is entirely possible that your surgery may have played a role in your urinary tract infection.

Why UTI Is Common After Surgery

Many patients have a catheter inserted into their bladder to drain urine during and/or after their procedure. The presence of a catheter, even a temporary catheter, increases the risk of contracting a urinary tract infection.

A urinary tract infection after having a urinary catheter inserted is called a catheter-associated urinary tract infection, or CAUTI. Hospital staff work hard to prevent this type of infection, but there are times when a catheter is necessary, especially when the patient cannot urinate after surgery.

A condition called urinary retention is also common after anesthesia, and can increase the likelihood of a UTI. Urinary retention means that the bladder does not fully empty during urination, leaving urine sitting in the bladder longer than is normal.

Urinary retention can be minor, leading to urinary frequency, or more serious, requiring catheterization and additional treatment.

Risk Factors for UTI After Surgery

There are additional factors that may play a role in a UTI after surgery, including the age of the patient (older patients are more likely to have this complication), sex (females are most likely to have a UTI), type of surgical procedure, and other conditions that you may have.

Diabetes increases the risks of a UTI, as do surgeries that are done on or near part of the urinary tract, such as prostate surgery. Additionally, being immobilized after surgery will increase the probability of a UTI. Immobility is common after trauma and orthopedic procedures including some joint surgeries.

Having surgery on any part of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra are also a risk factor for a urinary tract infection.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequently asked questions about catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

  2. Brouwer TA, van Roon EN, Rosier PFWM, Kalkman CJ, Veeger N. Postoperative urinary retention: risk factors, bladder filling rate and time to catheterization: an observational study as part of a randomized controlled trial. Perioper Med. 2021;10(1):2. doi:10.1186/s13741-020-00167-z

  3. Alvarez AP, Demzik AL, Alvi HM, Hardt KD, Manning DW. Risk factors for postoperative urinary tract infections in patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty. Adv Orthop. 2016;2016:7268985. doi:10.1155/2016/7268985

By Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FN
Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FNP-C, is a board-certified family nurse practitioner. She has experience in primary care and hospital medicine.