The term UTI encompasses a number of clinical conditions that result from the presence of microbial pathogens in the urinary tract. This may involve the upper tract (kidneys and ureters), lower tract (bladder, prostate in men), or both. More commonly, the terms pyelonephritis, cystitis and prostatitis are used.


Pyelonephritis refers to infection specifically in the renal pelvis, parenchyma and upper ureters.


Cystitis refers to the inflammatory response of the bladder to infection.

Acute prostatitis

Acute prostatitis may occur as a distinct condition, but is often associated with infection in other parts of the urinary tract.

UTIs that occur in otherwise healthy, young, non-pregnant women with no genitourinary abnormalities are ‘uncomplicated’. ‘Complicated’ UTIs occur in certain patient populations. These include UTIs in the elderly (>65), men, in the presence of structural or functional abnormality such as obstruction and neurogenic bladder. They also include the presence of renal stones or foreign body (catheter), pregnancy, recent instrumentation or presence of comorbidity (diabetes, malignant disease). ED physicians must be aware of the increased morbidity and mortality of the complicated group.

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