Suprapubic Tube Care

Your doctor has inserted a suprapubic tube (SPT) into your bladder. This tube goes directly through the skin of the lower abdomen and directly into the bladder to drain it continuously. SPTs are used frequently after pelvic surgery to help in “bladder retraining”. In addition, some patients may have insertion of a SPT as a “last resort” to help them permanently drain the bladder. If your SPT is intended to be temporary or permanent, please review the following information.

  1. Keep the tube and the connection to the drainage bag free of debris and clean as possible.
  2. Practice good hygiene techniques with special attention to bowel function and avoidance of constipation and fecal soilage.
  3. Your SPT will need to be changed at least on a monthly basis.
  4. Stay well hydrated to dilute possible bacteria within the bladder.
  5. Your urine will almost certainly be colonized (colonization implies that bacteria will live within your bladder as a consequence of the SPT). This bacteria does not pose a problem as long as the bladder stays drained and does not mean that there is a true infection in your bladder.
  6. You may be required to irrigate the SPT and your bladder once daily with water. This serves to dilute the colonized bacteria and reduces the risk of infection.
  7. Use a Vitamin C supplement 500mg three times a day, unless otherwise instructed by your physician.
  8. Cran tablets (concentrated cranberry extract) or high concentration cranberry juice twice a day is helpful to cut down n recurrent urinary infections.
  9. Patients with SPT catheters for many years may require surveillance cystoscopy (flexible telescopic exam of the interior of the bladder) to evaluate for possible changes due long term catheter placement.

Suprapubic tubes are man-made foreign bodies that sometimes serve as a “necessary evil” to drain the bladder for refractory problems. It is not ideal but sometimes may be the best available option. For temporary cases (usually in the post-operative period), a suprapubic tube may greatly aid in patient comfort as well as allowing “bladder retraining” after a reconstructive operation/procedure. If you have a permanent suprapubic tube, remember good hygiene and prevention of a problem is better than treatment.

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Comprehensive Urologic Care in a Local Setting