A suprapubic catheter (tube) drains urine from your bladder. It is inserted into your bladder through a small hole in your belly. You may need a catheter because you have urinary incontinence (leakage), urinary retention (not being able to urinate), surgery that made a catheter necessary, or another health problem.
Your catheter will make it easier for you to drain your bladder and avoid infections. You will need to make sure it is working properly. You will also need to know how to change it. You will need to change it every 4 to 6 weeks.
You can learn how to change your catheter in a sterile (very clean) way. After some practice, it will get easier. Your doctor will change it for you the first time.
Sometimes family members, a nurse, or others may be able to help you change your catheter.
Your doctor will give you a prescription to buy special catheters at a medical supply store. Other supplies you will need are sterile gloves, a catheter pack, syringes, sterile solution to clean with, gel such as K-Y Jelly or Surgilube (do NOT use Vaseline), and a drainage bag. Your doctor may also give you medicine for your bladder.
Drink 8 to 12 glasses of water every day for a few days after you change your catheter. Avoid physical activity for a week or two. It is best to keep the catheter taped to your belly.
Once your catheter is in place, you will need to empty your bag only a few times a day.
See also: Urine drainage bags
Follow these guidelines for good health and skin care:
You will need to check your catheter and bag throughout the day.
You will need to change the catheter about every 4 to 6 weeks. Always wash your hands with soap and water before changing it.
Once you have your sterile supplies ready, lie down on your back. Put on two pairs of sterile gloves, one over the other. Then:
If you are having trouble changing your catheter, call your doctor right away. Insert a catheter into your urethra through your urinary opening in your labia (women) or penis (men) to pass urine. Do NOT remove the suprapubic catheter because the hole can close up quickly. However, if you have removed the catheter already and cannot get it back in, call your doctor or go to the local emergency room.
Call your doctor or nurse if:
Mendez-Probst CE, Razvi H, Denstedt JD. Fundamentals of instrumentation and urinary tract drainage. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 7.
Updated by: Jennifer K. Mannheim, ARNP, Medical Staff, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Seattle Children's Hospital; and Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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