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Insertion of a Suprapubic Catheter

Why this procedure?

There are many different reasons for insertion of a suprapubic catheter (SPC). The reason you are having this procedure will be discussed with you in detail prior to the operation.

SPC is a method for draining urine from the bladder that avoids the need for a catheter in the urethra. There is some evidence that the risk of long term or repeated bladder infections in slightly less if you have an SPC rather than a urethral catheter.

How is the operation performed?

Under general anaesthetic, a cystoscopy is performed to inspect the bladder. This is then used as a guide for the suprapubic catheter insertion. The SPC is passed through a small incision made in your lower abdomen.

After the operation

The operation only takes a short time, and you may be able to leave hospital the same day. You will be shown how to care for the catheter. Most SPC need to be changed every six weeks (a simple, painless, five minute procedure done in outpatients), and we like to perform the first change under supervision in the clinic/hospital.

Potential side effects and complications

All procedures have the potential for side effects. Although these complications are well recognised, the majority of patients do not have problems after a procedure.

Risks of the anaesthetic need to be discussed with the anaesthetist who will be looking after you during the operation, and who will visit you beforehand.

There are specific risks with this surgical procedure, and these will be discussed with you before your procedure. As a guide to complement that one-on-one discussion with your surgeon, these include:


  • Passing a small amount of blood in the urine for a short period afterwards


  • Infection in the bladder requiring antibiotics


  • Infection from the bladder causing sepsis

Very rare

  • Delayed bleeding requiring removal of clots or further surgery
  • Damage to bowel at the time that the catheter is inserted, requiring further surgery to repair.

If you develop a fever, severe pain on passing urine, if urine stops draining, or you have worsening bleeding, you should contact the practice immediately. If out of hours, please go to your nearest emergency department.


This information is intended as an educational guide only, and is here to help you as an additional source of information, along with a consultation from your urologist. The information does not apply to all patients.

Not all potential complications are listed, and you must talk to your urologist about the complications specific to your situation.


Urology Affiliations

Contact Us

  • QE Specialist Centre,
    35 Woodville Road
    Woodville South,
    SA 5011
  • Tel: 8244 4105
  • Mobile: 0439 080 899
  • Fax: 8243 2766