New test will aid the diagnosis and treatment of recurrent urinary tract infections
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New test will aid the diagnosis and treatment of recurrent urinary tract infections

A novel comprehensive testing approach for the diagnosis of urinary tract infections (UTI) has been developed by the team at Digital Microbiology in the UK. Patients using this unique test will report and track their symptoms using the Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection Symptom Scale (RUTISS), a patient-reported outcome measure that we license here at InSpired Health Outcomes.

Recurrent urinary tract infections (rUTI) are notoriously difficult to accurately diagnose. Indeed, the current gold standard diagnosis for UTI relies on a urine culture test developed back in the 1950s, which can detect relatively few types of bacteria, in particular E. coli.

However, thousands of bacteria species, yeasts and even viruses can be responsible for rUTI. Women in particular are prone to the condition, often living with debilitating symptoms and pain for years, in part due to frequent negative test results and dismissal of symptoms.

Digital Microbiology’s unique test, by contrast, explores the entire DNA makeup of a urine sample or vaginal swab, revealing which bacteria are likely to be responsible for UTI symptoms.

Patients can take this information to their GPs, who will be better placed to prescribe the appropriate antibiotic based on the identified bacteria, reducing dependence on broad spectrum antibiotics that are not well-targeted for the infection present.

Each patient who purchases a test kit from Digital Microbiology will now be invited, by unique QR code, to complete a version of the RUTISS, which we have licensed for this purpose. The development team at PARED Insights, the research arm of social enterprise and UTI patient and public involvement organisation, Live UTI Free, will help to manage its use.

Dr Nick Parkinson, the Scientific Director at Digital Microbiology, has said that there are significant benefits both to patients and his institute in using the RUTISS alongside their UTI test. Patients will be able to keep track of their symptoms and pain severity, which bacteria are present, and how they respond to different types of antibiotics – all essential information for someone living with rUTI.

Digital Microbiology’s scientists are using this gold standard rUTI questionnaire to support their research and the papers they publish on UTI, working alongside some of the world’s leading researchers in this field.

Ultimately, Nick and the team want the NHS to adopt this new test for UTI. They firmly believe that the vast majority, if not all, cases of rUTI are the product of a failed testing system. With an effective testing system, it is their aim that UTIs will be caught very early on and treated appropriately, and patients’ lives will no longer be shattered by living with this condition.

Digital Microbiology is the commercial arm of non-profit company Systems Biology Laboratory UK, funded by philanthropist Mike Fischer CBE.

At InSpired Health Outcomes, we are proud to be playing our part in aiding reliable testing and treatment of this widespread and debilitating condition.


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