Suprapubic Catheter Care

A suprapubic (SP) catheter is a tube that enters the urinary bladder through the wall of the abdomen. It may be needed for a variety of reasons. Often, it is used to constantly drain urine from the bladder after certain surgeries on the genitals or bladder.

The suprapubic tube may be connected to a large drainage bag or to a smaller drainage bag that is attached to the leg.

It is very important to take good care of the suprapubic tube and drainage system. They should be kept very clean. The bag should not be allowed to drag on the floor.

If the bag is accidentally cut or begins to leak, it must be changed to prevent germs that may cause infection from entering the system. An opening anywhere along the entire system of tubing and bag will allow bacteria to enter. If these would then reach your child's bladder, a urinary tract infection could result. It is not acceptable to place the drainage bag in a plastic bag if it leaks.

Follow these steps to clean the area where the catheter enters your child's body.

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Once a day, use a warm wet soapy wash cloth to clean the catheter and the skin around it. Take care that you do not pull on the catheter.
  3. If there is any dried blood or mucous on the catheter that does not come off with soap and water, you may use hydrogen peroxide on the catheter. Pour some hydrogen peroxide on a cotton ball or gauze pad and wipe gently on the catheter.
  4. Rinse the skin and catheter with plain water. Pat dry with a towel.
  5. You may place a slit gauze dressing over the catheter site if you wish. It is not required, but some people feel more comfortable doing so.

While your child has the SP catheter, he or she will need to take a sponge bath. Baths, showers and swimming are not allowed.

The large drainage bag must be emptied at least every eight hours even if it is not full. If the bag is small and fills quickly, it should be emptied when the bag is ⅔ full.

When emptying the bag, be careful not to touch the top of the spout to the container into which it is being drained. Also, do not touch the top of the spout with your hands.

If you will be changing drainage bags while at home, the nurse will show you how to do this.

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Disconnect the tubing from the catheter. Insert the new drainage bag tubing into the catheter.
  3. If you are going to reuse the bag you just switched from, the connection site must be covered with a sterile cap or gauze. The bag must be kept in a clean place.
  • Keep the drainage system below the level of the bladder so the urine does not back up.
  • The leg bag will allow your child to wear regular clothes and be free to play or work. Remember that because it is small, it will need to be emptied often.
  • Be sure there are no kinks or sharp bends in the tubing that may prevent urine draining from the bladder to the bag.
  • If your child's drainage bag becomes dirty or smelly, it needs to be changed. If a hole is punctured in the bag or tubing, it also needs to be changed. If you do not have the supplies to do this, call your child's healthcare provider.
  • Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids. The urine should be light yellow and clear. 
  • The urine has a foul smell, changes color or becomes bloody
  • Urine leaks around the catheter or from the tubing
  • Your child complains of pain in the back, sides or belly, or develops fever or vomiting

Last Updated 10/2012