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Suprapubic Catheter Care: Care Instructions


A suprapubic catheter is a thin tube that drains urine from your bladder. The tube is put into your bladder through a small cut in your lower belly. The urine collects in a bag attached to the tube. The bag is usually attached to your leg. Sometimes the catheter tube has a valve that lets you drain the urine into the toilet or other container.

You may need a suprapubic catheter if you have nerve damage, a problem with your urinary tract, or a disease that weakens your muscles.

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

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Wash your hands before you handle the catheter.
  • Clean the area around the catheter with soap and water daily.
  • Keep the drainage bag lower than your bladder to keep urine from backing up.
  • 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.
  • Empty the drainage bag when it is full or at least every 8 hours.
  • Many people clean their bedside bag in the morning if they switch to a leg bag. Clean the bag after removing it from the catheter. Use another drainage bag or container while you clean the bag.

How to clean the drainage bag

Before you start, clean and disinfect the area where you will be working, such as the sink and counter. Then follow these steps:

  1. Wash your hands really well with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rub.
  2. Make sure you have everything you need:
    • Clear liquid soap (regular dish soap is fine).
    • A clean measuring cup.
    • 1:1 water and vinegar solution. Mix together 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water (for example, 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water).
    • A clean, 60 mL catheter-tip syringe or a squeeze bottle.
    • A clean towel or paper towels for a clean workspace.
    • Clean examination gloves (optional).
    • Alcohol or chlorhexidine swabs.
  3. Put on the gloves, if used.
  4. Empty the drainage bag and disconnect the tube. Connect alternate drainage bag. Wipe all ends with alcohol or chlorhexidine swabs before you reconnect.
  5. Add a few drops of liquid soap to 1 cup of water in the squeeze bottle.
  6. Squeeze the soapy water into the drainage bag.
  7. Gently shake the soapy water around in the drainage bag to loosen anything that might be stuck inside. Rub and shake the sides of the bag. Make sure the whole bag is clean, including the drainage spout and tubing.
  8. Pour out the soapy water through the drainage spout and tubing. Flush the drainage bag with tap water, until the water runs clear through tubing and spout. Check to make sure there is no soap left in the bag, spout, and tubing.
  9. Put the vinegar and water solution in the syringe or squeeze bottle, and squeeze it into the drainage bag to rinse it out. Shake the bag around and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then rinse the bag out with cool tap water and let it air dry.
  10. Empty and wash the squeeze bottle or syringe after everytime you use it. Wash it with hot, soapy water, then rinse it and let it air dry. Throw out the syringe or squeeze bottle if it:
    • Looks damaged or broken.
    • Changes colour (discoloured).
    • Feels different than usual (for example, it feels harder, more brittle, or softer).
  11. Take off the gloves (if you wore them) and wash your hands. Make any notes your healthcare provider asked you to make.

Important things to remember

When cleaning, check the drainage bag for damage (such as holes or tears) and to see if it’s discoloured.
Throw out the drainage bag and use a new bag every 7 days. Use a new bag right away if the one you’re using is:

  • Damaged.
  • Discoloured.
  • Stiff and brittle.
  • Smelly even after you clean it.

Let the drainage bag, spout, and tubing dry on a clean, dry surface after you clean them. Make sure the spout, connector, and tubing don’t touch anything. Wipe all ends with alcohol or chlorhexidine swabs before you reconnect them.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your catheter becomes blocked and urine does not collect in the drainage bag.
  • Your catheter leaks.
  • You have blood or pus in your urine.
  • You have pain in your back just below your rib cage. This is called flank pain.
  • You have a fever, chills, or body aches.
  • You have groin or belly pain.
  • Your urine is cloudy or smells bad.
  • You have pain, increasing redness, or bleeding around the catheter.
  • You have swelling around the catheter or in your belly.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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