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Suprapubic Tube Catheter

People can have difficulty emptying their bladders for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, patients and their doctors decide the best way to keep their bladder drained is to have a suprapubic tube placed. A suprapubic tube is a catheter that goes into the bladder via the lower abdomen.

Prior to surgery 

Unless directed otherwise by your surgeon, your primary care doctor, your anesthesiologist or their staff, you should not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery(except a tiny sip of water for medications approved by your physicians)

Some medications may increase your risk of surgical bleeding.  Hold all HERBALS AND SUPPLEMENTS for two (2) weeks prior to surgery. Hold all ASPIRIN, OR ASPIRIN – LIKE, PRODUCTS for one (1) week prior to surgery. TYLENOL IS OKAY TO USE. See included Blood Thinning List.   If you are taking or have recently been taking any of these types of medications be sure to inform your Urologist. Due to the need for an anesthestic, it is required that a patient not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery .

After surgery

After a suprapubic tube is placed, it is important to be sure that the tube continues to drain. Generally, unless the tube gets pulled out of the bladder, it will continue to drain. Most Urologists secure the tube to the skin with stitches, but with enough force the tube could still get pulled out. The sutures may pull out of the skin after several days. This is fine as long as the tube is draining urine. Should you notice the tube not draining urine, call your Urologist immediately. After a suprapubic tube is placed you may notice some blood in the urine. This is not unusual. If the blood in the urine gets to be thick like ketchup or forming clots so that the suprapubic tube is no longer draining, you should inform your urologist immediately. Should you develop fevers (temperature > 101 °F), chills, severe pain, or redness extending out from the suprapubic tube site you should contact your Urologist immediately.

Most Urologists want you come to the clinic for the first suprapubic tube change. This is generally around 4-6 weeks. Unless specifically instructed by your Urologist to allow someone besides The Urology Center of Colorado staff to change out the suprapubic tube for the first time, do not let anyone remove or try to change the suprapubic tube without first talking to your Urologist or one of his or her partners.

You are going home with a suprapubic catheter in place. This tube is placed directly into the bladder through your abdomen to drain urine from your bladder. You were shown how to care for your catheter in the hospital. This sheet will help remind you of those steps and guidelines when you are at home.

Home Care

  • Shower as necessary. There is a shield over your tube. It’s okay for the shield to get wet, but not the area around your tube. 

  • Change your dressing every day. Change the dressing more often if it falls off, becomes dirty, or has absorbed a lot of drainage.

Gather Your Supplies

  • Tape

  • Povidone-iodine ointment

  • Cotton swabs (Q-tips)

  • Wastebasket and plastic bag

  • Povidone-iodine swab sticks (or cotton balls and povidone-iodine solution)

  • Dressing sponges (4" x 4") that are cut or split halfway into the middle

Remove the Dressing and Check for Problems

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after all catheter care.

  • Gently remove the old dressing if you have one.

    • Don’t pull on the tube.

    • Check the dressing for drainage. Notice whether anything looks unusual or smells bad.

    • Place your dressing in the plastic bag and throw it away in the wastebasket.

  • Now look at the place where the catheter leaves your body (exit site).

    • Note any swelling, bleeding, irritation, unusual or smelly drainage.

    • Also check for any sores next to the exit site. Sores form around the exit site if there is too much pressure from the tube on the skin.

Clean the Area

  • Wash around the shield gently with soap and water.

  • Use a povidone-iodine swab stick to clean under the shield.

    • Clean around the exit site of the catheter.

    • Start at the exit site and clean outward in a circular motion, about 3 to 4 inches from the site.

      Don’t clean back toward the tube.

    • Throw away the used swab stick and repeat the cleaning procedure with a new one.

    • Let your skin dry completely.

  • Place a split 4" x 4"  sponge around the catheter. Tape it in place.

  • Smear a thin layer of povidone-iodine ointment around the catheter with a Q-tip.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff, please call 303-825-8822 .

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Catheter that falls out, or is clogged or feels clogged

  • Stitches that fall out

  • Urine leaking around catheter

  • Urine that is cloudy, bloody, or smells bad

  • No urine drainage

  • Bladder that feels full or painful

  • Rash, itching, redness, swelling, or drainage at the catheter site

  • Fever above 101.0°F or shaking chills

© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.