Suprapubic cystostomy is a procedure to help drain the bladder (organ that collects and holds urine). A tube called a catheter, which leads out of the lower abdomen, is inserted to drain the bladder.
Bladder and Urethra (Female)
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This procedure is done if you cannot urinate and a catheter cannot be passed through your urethra to help you urinate. The urethra is where urine passes out of the body from the bladder. Urine may not be able pass through the urethra due to:
- Narrowing of the urethra
Other blockage due to:
- Kidney stones
- Prostate disease (in men)
The procedure may also be done if you need to:
- Avoid damaging the urethra
- Have surgery on the urethra or nearby structures
- Have a catheter in your body long-term
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. Your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
- Damage to the bowel or other surrounding structures
- Need for a repeat procedure
- Blood clots
- Anesthesia reaction
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
- Chronic disease such as diabetes or obesity
Your risk of complications may also increase if you have:
- Bleeding disorders
- Taken medications that reduce blood clotting
- Had previous abdominal surgery
- Bladder cancer
Your doctor may do the following:
- Physical exam
- Imaging, blood, and urine tests
- Talk about the anesthesia being used and the potential risks
You should also talk to your doctor about your medicines. If this is not an emergency situation, you may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure. These medicines may include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Your doctor may ask you to take certain medicines before surgery.
In the days before the surgery:
- Arrange for a ride home from the hospital.
- You may need to avoid eating for eight hours before the surgery.
- If instructed by your doctor, drink only clear liquids (such as water, clear juices, tea). You may be asked to drink extra fluids to fill the bladder.
Note: These steps may not be possible in an emergency situation.
Local anesthesia may be used with or without sedation. You will not have any pain during the procedure.
After anesthesia has numbed the area, the doctor will locate the bladder using imaging tools such as
if needed. Next, a needle will be inserted through your lower abdomen and into your bladder. A wire will then be guided through the needle into the bladder to prepare the site for a catheter. A special catheter will be placed into the bladder over the wire. The catheter will be sutured in place. A balloon may be inflated to keep the catheter in place. Afterward, the opening made in the skin (called a stoma) will be covered with gauze.
Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. You will be given pain medicine to ease pain and soreness after the surgery.
You will either stay in the hospital overnight or go home the same day.
The hospital staff will:
- Monitor your recovery
- Help you to eat and move around again
- Give you pain medicine
- Teach you how to care for your catheter
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
- Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
- Not allowing others to touch your incisions
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
- Take medicines as directed.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects for two weeks.
- Drink plenty of fluids (8-10 glasses per day).
- Do not drive or have sex until your doctor tells you that it is safe to do so.
- Follow the guidelines for changing the catheter and collection bag.
Keep the stoma site clean and dry:
- Cleaning the incision site as directed.
- Using a soft washcloth to gently wipe the incision area.
- Changing dressings daily, or more as directed.
- Asking your doctor when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
- Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
After you leave the hospital, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
- Pain or cramps
- Redness or soreness around the catheter site
- Catheter fails to drain
- Catheter falls outs
- Changes in frequency, odor, appearance, or volume of urine
- Signs of infection, including fever or chills
- Bloody urine
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Aguilera PA, Choi T, et al. Ultrasound-guided suprapubic cystostomy catheter placement in the emergency department.
J Emerg Med. 2004;26(3):319-321.
Care of a suprapubic cystostomy. Danbury Hospital Patient Education website. Available at:
http://www.danburyhospital.org/en/Patient-and-Visitor-Information/Information-Guides/~/media/Files/Patient%20Education/patiented-english/pdf_Surgery/SuprapubicCystostomyCare.ashx. Accessed October 19, 2012.
Last reviewed March 2014 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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