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How to Change a Suprapubic Catheter

A suprapubic (SP) catheter is a tube that drains urine (pee) from the bladder. A surgeon inserts the tube through a small hole (stoma) in the belly and it goes directly into the bladder. The catheter carries urine from the bladder to a drainage bag.

Your care team may teach you how to change your child’s SP catheter. If so, change the catheter every 4–6 weeks, or as often as your child’s doctor tells you.

Suprapubic catheter

A suprapubic (SP) catheter is a tube that drains urine (pee) from the bladder.

Supplies needed:

  • 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
  • Saline and sterile water
  • A new catheter and drainage bag
  • Sterile gloves
  • Cleaning solution that your nurse gave you
  • A dressing or bandage, if you use one

1.   Get ready

  • Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them well. Or use an alcohol-based liquid or foam hand cleaner.
  • Gather your supplies in a clean work area.

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. Do not let 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 1–2 inches 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 drains properly.


  • Change your child’s catheter as instructed by your care team. If you have questions about changing the SP catheter, ask your child’s doctor or nurse.
  • Take steps to prevent infection: wash your hands, clean the stoma, and keep the new catheter clean.
  • If you have problems inserting the new catheter or urine does not flow, contact your doctor or go to the hospital.

Reviewed: September 2022