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Bladder Cancer Health Center

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Suprapubic Catheter Care - Topic Overview

What is a suprapubic catheter?

A suprapubic catheter is a thin, sterile tube used to drain urine from your bladder camera.gif when you cannot urinate. This type of catheter is used if you aren't able to use a catheter that is inserted into the urethra. The urethra carries urine from the bladder out of the body.

Your doctor inserts the catheter into the bladder through a cut (incision) in your lower belly, just above the pubic bone.

When the catheter is in the bladder, a small balloon is inflated to keep the catheter in place.

The urine drains from the bladder into a bag that is usually attached to the thigh. Sometimes the catheter tube has a valve that lets you drain the urine into the toilet or other container.

You may need this type of catheter if you have nerve damage or if you have problems with your bladder or urethra.

How long you have the catheter depends on why you have it. Many people need it for long periods of time.

Having a catheter for a long time increases the risk of getting a urinary tract infection. Home care focuses on preventing infection.

How do you care for the catheter?

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling your catheter.
  • Make sure that the catheter tubing does not get twisted or kinked, and that urine is flowing out of the catheter into the urine collection bag.
  • Keep the urine collection bag below the level of your bladder.
  • Make sure that the urine collection bag does not drag and pull on the catheter.
  • You can shower with your catheter and urine collection bag in place unless you have been told not to.
  • Clean the bag every day after removing it from the catheter. Use another container while you clean the bag. To clean the bag, fill it with 2 parts vinegar to 3 parts water and let it stand for 20 minutes. Then empty it out, and let it air-dry.

How do you care for your incision?

Clean the area around the catheter with soap and water once a day.

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