Suprapubic Tube / Change Post-Op Instructions

How often does a suprapubic catheter need changing?

The first catheter change is usually always done in the hospital / clinic that put the catheter in. After this it can vary from 4-12 week intervals depending on the type of catheter and your own situation and will usually be done by your nurse.

If the suprapubic catheter comes out unexpectedly, it must be replaced within a short time.  Contact your doctor or nurse as soon as possible.  Out of normal working hours you should proceed to Accident & Emergency.

How do I look after my suprapubic catheter?

Always wash your hands before and after emptying your catheter bag, or before and after emptying your bladder using the valve. You should wash the area around the insertion site with cooled boiled water once or twice a day.  Some people find cleaning the wound with a sterile saline solution a good method of keeping the area clean.

A dressing will cover the wound after the operation and you should keep it in place until the wound has healed. Although not always necessary, many people prefer to wear a dressing around the wound all the time. The type of dressing may vary, your healthcare professional will be able to advise you of an appropriate dressing.

Do not put any creams or talc around the site.  To prevent pulling, it may be advisable to secure the catheter to the abdomen with a fixation device or tape.  Your health care professional will advise you if this is necessary and help you decide on the best method.

In order to prevent urinary infections and encourage drainage, you should ensure you have an adequate daily fluid intake (average being 1.5 to 2 litres).

A good mix of fluid types is recommended i.e. water, squash and juice. Keep bladder-irritating drinks e.g. tea, coffee and fizzy drinks to a minimum.  Cranberry juice can be helpful to prevent bladder infections but should be avoided if you are taking Warfarin.

To avoid constipation: make sure that you include fruit and vegetables in your diet.

It is better to take showers rather than baths as sitting in water for long periods may delay the wound from healing. For the first few days after the operation, you should keep a waterproof dressing on.

Once the wound has healed it is perfectly okay to shower normally, although avoid using scented products as these can irritate the skin.

What kind of problems should I watch out for?

Here are some of the problems to watch for:

  • Urine stops draining out of the catheter
  • You feel unwell with pain, fever and abdominal discomfort
  • Urine is leaking around the catheter – this can be normal around a new catheter site
  • The area around the catheter becomes red and sore
  • Bleeding. It is not unusual to see blood in the urine following a change of catheter but this usually settles in 24 hours.

Occasionally the skin around the catheter heals over and small skin tags form.  If they become problematic i.e. bleed easily and interfere with catheter changes, they can be treated by your healthcare professional.

Some healthcare professionals recommend turning the catheter when cleaning the area to help prevent the catheter sticking to the bladder wall.
If you notice anything unusual or feel unwell, contact your doctor or nurse.