Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common secondary medical complication following spinal cord injury (SCI), significantly impacting health care resource utilization and costs.


To characterize risk factors and health care utilization costs associated with UTIs in the setting of SCI.


IBM’s Marketscan Database from 2000–2019 was utilized to identify individuals with traumatic SCI. Relevant ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes classified individuals into two analysis groups: having ≥ 1 UTI episode or no UTI episodes within 2 years following injury. Demographics (age, sex), insurance type, comorbidities, level of injury (cervical, thoracic, lumbar/sacral), and health care utilization/payments were evaluated.


Of the 6762 individuals retained, 1860 had ≥ 1 UTI with an average of three episodes (SD 2). Younger age, female sex, thoracic level of injury, noncommercial insurance, and having at least one comorbidity were associated with increased odds of UTI. Individuals with a UTI in year 1 were 11 times more likely to experience a UTI in year 2. As expected, those with a UTI had a higher rate and associated cost of hospital admission, use of outpatient services, and prescription refills. UTIs were associated with 2.48 times higher cumulated health care resource use payments over 2 years after injury.


In addition to bladder management-related causes, several factors are associated with an increased risk of UTIs following SCI. UTI incidence substantially increases health care utilization costs. An increased understanding of UTI-associated risk factors may improve the ability to identify and manage higher risk individuals with SCI and ultimately optimize their health care utilization.

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