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Suprapubic Catheter Care

How Do You Care for a Suprapubic Catheter?

A suprapubic (SP) catheter is a tube that enters the urinary bladder through the wall of the abdomen. It may be needed for several reasons. Often, the catheter 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.

SP Catheter Care

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 so that germs cannot get into the bladder. The germs could cause an infection. An opening anywhere along the entire set of tubing and bag will allow germs to enter. If these germs get into the bladder, a urinary tract infection could result. It is not OK to put the drainage bag in a plastic bag if it leaks. If you need help to get a new drainage bag, phone the Urology office.

Cleaning the Catheter

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. Be careful that you do not pull on the catheter.
  3. If there is any dried blood or mucous around the catheter that does not come off with soap and water, you can use half-strength hydrogen peroxide to clean around the catheter. Mix the same amount of hydrogen peroxide and tap water to make the half-strength peroxide. Pour some hydrogen peroxide on a cotton ball, gauze pad or Q-tip and wipe gently on the skin around the catheter.
  4. Rinse the skin and catheter with tap 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 using the split gauze pad.


While your child has the SP catheter, he/she will need to take a sponge bath or shower. Do not put your child in a bathtub or swimming pool while they have the tube in. Baths and swimming are not allowed.

Emptying the Bag

The 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. To empty the bag, put a container under the bottom drain spout of the bag and open the spout to let all of the urine drain out.

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. Once the bag is empty, do not forget to close the drain spout again.

Changing the Bag

If you will be changing drainage bags while at home, the nurse will show you how to do this. You might change between smaller leg bags during the day and the large drain bag at night.

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  1. Remove the bag from the catheter. Put the new drainage bag tubing into the catheter.
  1. If you are going to reuse a bag when you change bags, the top of the bag which goes into the catheter should be covered with a sterile cap or gauze. The bag must be kept in a clean place.
  1. When you change between two different bags, wipe the top connecting part of the bag off with an alcohol wipe before you connect it to the tube.


  • Keep the drainage system below the level of the bladder so the urine does not back up.
  • A leg bag will allow you to wear regular clothes and be free for gentle play or work. Remember that because a leg bag is small, it will need to be emptied often.
  • Be sure there are no kinks or sharp bends in the tubing that may block the urine draining from the bladder to the bag.
  • If the drainage bag becomes dirty or smelly, it needs to be changed. If there is a hole in the bag or tubing, it also needs to be changed. If you do not have extra bags, call the Urology office or your supply company to request more bags.
  • Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids. The urine should be light yellow and clear.

Call Your Child's Doctor If:

  • The urine has a foul smell, changes color or is bloody
  • Urine leaks around the catheter or from the tubing
  • Your child complains of pain in the back, sides or belly, or has fever or vomiting

Last Updated 04/2021

Reviewed By Tammy Lingsch, MSN, APRN, CPNP

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For more information or to request an appointment, contact the Division of Urology.

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