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A suprapubic catheter is a plastic tube that is passed through the lower part of the abdomen (tummy) into the bladder to drain urine outside.
This is required to drain the bladder when passing a catheter through the urethra is either unacceptable or unsuitable. This can be for a short period but more often it is a long term for long term conditions.
Examples for these conditions include;
Insertion is often carried out on the ward under local anaesthesia, but occasionally it might require general anaesthesia. The procedure will be explained by the doctor.
You will be made comfortable and covered. The area will be cleaned. Local anaesthesia will be injected. A small cut is made in the lower part of your tummy, just above the hairline. If you had a previous operation, the incision will be through the scar and ultrasound guidance may be needed to avoid bowel injury.
The catheter will be passed through this cut using a special inserting device. Your bladder may have to be filled with saline prior to insertion, to ensure easy localisation and access.
Sometimes, it may be necessary to have a look into your bladder with a camera (cystoscopy) at the same time. The catheter may be fixed with sutures and a drainage bag will be attached and usually strapped to your thigh.
There are risks with any operation but these are small. The main risks associated with the insertion of a suprapubic catheter are:
In order for you to make an informed choice about your surgery please ask one of the doctors or nurses if you have any questions about the operation before signing the consent form.
You will be observed for a while to ensure the bladder is draining properly and you do not have any problems. You can go home after that. The catheter will need to be changed if it stops drainage.
The catheter will be removed when the need for its insertion ends. Otherwise, the catheter may need to be replaced every few months. This can be done at the hospital or by your doctor.
If you have any problems or questions, please use the contact numbers below to speak to a urogynaecological team.
Princess Royal Hospital: 01444 441881 Extension 5686
Royal Sussex County Hospital: 01273 696955 Extension 4013
Urogynaecology Unit at Lewes Victoria Hospital: 01273 474153 Extension 2178
This patient information leaflet was prepared by Dr. Sharif Ismail, Consultant Subspecialist Urogynaecologist.
This information leaflet has been approved at the Clinical Governance and Safety and Quality Meetings of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology as well as Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust Carer and Patient Information Group (CPIG).
This information is intended for patients receiving care in Brighton & Hove or Haywards Heath.
The information in this leaflet is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.
Publication Date: May 2021
Review Date: February 2024