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Changing a suprapubic catheter


A suprapubic (soop-ruh-PEW-bick) catheter needs to be changed every few weeks. The doctor will do this the first time, between 4 and 12 weeks after your child gets the catheter. Then you might learn how to change it yourself. If so, change the catheter every 4 to 6 weeks, or as often as your child’s doctor tells you.

How to change a suprapubic catheter

1.   Get ready

Clean your hands with soap and water and dry them well. Or use an alcohol-based liquid or foam hand cleaner. (See Do You Know … Clean Hands.) Gather your supplies in a clean work area. You will need the following items.

  • A pad to place under your child
  • The container to use for measuring urine
  • Water-based lubricant
  • A syringe if your child’s catheter has a balloon on it – Your nurse will give you what you need.
  • Saline and sterile water
  • A new catheter and drainage bag (leg bag)
  • Sterile gloves
  • Cleaning solution that your nurse gave you
  • A dressing (bandage), if using

2.   Prepare to change the catheter

  • Open the catheter package, keeping the end of the catheter clean.
  • Have your child lie flat on their back. Take off the old dressing if your child has one.
  • Clean the hole (stoma) with the cleaner your nurse gave you.
  • Look at your child’s catheter. Check the angle it goes into your child’s body. Also, check how much of the catheter you can see outside the body. Knowing these things helps you put the new catheter in the same way.

3.   Take out the old catheter

  • Deflate the balloon if there is one – Use the syringe. Important: If you cannot deflate the balloon, take your child to the hospital.
  • Slowly take out the old catheter.
  • Measure the new catheter by holding it up to the old catheter. Avoid letting the catheters touch, to keep the new catheter clean. The new catheter should be the same length as the old one.

4.   Place the new catheter

  • Put lubricant in the stoma. Then, put lubricant on the end of the new catheter.
  • Put the new catheter into the stoma up to the same point that the old catheter went into the body.
  • Wait for urine to flow through the catheter into the container.
  • If you do not see urine, finish putting in the catheter. Then flush 10 ml of saline toward your child’s body. This can help rinse lubricant out of the catheter so it works.
  • Once you see urine flowing, put the catheter an inch or 2 further into the body. This makes sure it is in your child’s bladder.
  • Attach the catheter to your child’s belly.

5.   Set up the catheter system

  • Inflate the balloon with sterile water, if your child has a balloon.
  • Attach the drainage bag to the catheter.
  • Look for urine flowing, to make sure the catheter is draining properly.


If you have questions about changing the SP catheter, ask your child’s doctor or nurse.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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