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Open Access

Case report: Purple urine bag syndrome

  • Joaquim Palmeiro Ribeiro1Email author,
  • Paulo Marcelino2,
  • Susan Marum2,
  • Ana Paula Fernandes2 and
  • Ana Grilo3
Critical Care20048:R137

https://doi.org/10.1186/cc2853

Received: 9 February 2004

Accepted: 12 March 2004

Published: 31 March 2004

Abstract

Purple urine bag syndrome (PUBS) was first reported in 1978. PUBS is rare, occurs predominantly in constipated women, chronically catheterized and associated with some bacterial urinary infections that produce sulphatase/phosphatase. The etiology is due to indigo (blue) and indirubin (red) or to their mixture that becomes purple. A chain reaction begins in the gastrointestinal tract with tryptophan as described in the article.

Keywords

indigoindirubinpurple urine bag syndrome

Purple urine bag syndrome (PUBS) is a rare syndrome associated with alkaline urine and some urinary tract infections, and is more frequently observed in chronically catheterized and constipated women. The urinary catheter drainage system changes colour from red or blue to violet or purple, sometimes with differently coloured tube and bag. The aetiology is still controversial but in the literature researched most authors believe that indigo, which is blue, and indirubin, which is red, are responsible for the colours obtained.

The chain reaction responsible for the PUBS begins with tryptophan from the food chain being metabolized by gut bacteria. This metabolic process produces indole, which is absorbed into portal circulation and converted into indoxyl sulphate in the liver, after a series of detoxification transformations.

Indoxyl sulphate is excessively excreted in the urine and is digested into indoxyl by the enzyme sulphatase/phosphatase produced by certain bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus mirabilis, Morganella morganii, Escherichia coli, and so on. Indoxyl then changes into indigo and indirubin in alkaline urine [1, 2].

Concerning PUBS, we present the clinical case report of a 56-year-old female patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, mechanically ventilated in the intensive care unit for almost 6 years, chronically catheterized and with alkaline urine. Isolation of the bacteria M. morganii, P. aeruginosa and P. mirabilis in urine culture was frequent. The urinary catheter drainage system and the bag varied in colour and increased in intensity the longer the system remained unchanged (Figs 1, 2, 3 show different discolourations).
Figure 1
Figure 1

Red bag and tube.

Figure 2
Figure 2

Violet/pulple bag.

Figure 3
Figure 3

Blue tube.

Considering the known etiologic and physiopathologic mechanisms of PUBS, it is surprising how rarely this situation is observed and/or reported.

Abbreviations

PUBS: 

purple urine bag syndrome.

Declarations

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Director, Intensive Care Unit, Curry Cabral Hospital, Lisbon, Portugal
(2)
Consultant in Internal Medicine, Intensive Care Unit, Curry Cabral Hospital, Lisbon, Portugal
(3)
Resident in Internal Medicine, Curry Cabral Hospital, Lisbon, Portugal

References

  1. Lin H-H, Li S-J, Su K-B, Wu L-S: Purple urine bag syndrome: a case report and review of the literature. J Intern Med Taiwan 2002, 13: 209-212.Google Scholar
  2. Robinson J: Purple urine bag syndrome. Br J Community Nursing 2003, 8: 263-265.View ArticleGoogle Scholar

Copyright

© Ribeiro et al., licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2004

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original URL.

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