Home Care Instructions
You will be going home with a suprapubic, (SP) catheter in place. This handout is to help you
understand how to care for it. A nurse will talk to you about caring for the SP catheter before
you go home. The SP catheter is held in place with sutures, the first change is done by your
provider so they can remove the sutures. If you have any questions or problems please feel free to
call the phone numbers listed at the end of this handout. Nurses are available to help you 24
An SP catheter is a tube that goes into your bladder. One end of it comes out at your lower
abdomen. The tube allows continuous draining of your urine.
The SP catheter requires little care. It will not prevent you from doing most activities. You may
bathe or shower with the SP catheter in unless your doctor has instructed you not to do so.
You should change the dressing at least once each day. It should always be changed after a
shower and anytime that it becomes wet or soiled.
Changing the Dressing
1 Package pre-split gauze
Clear plastic (Transpore) tape
1 Package sterile swabs (Q-tips)
1. Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Dry very well with a clean towel.
2. Wash the work surface with soap and warm water. You may let it air-dry.
3. Wash your hands again.
4. Gather all your supplies.
5. Pour normal saline into container.
6. Open the packages of split gauze and sterile cotton swabs.
7. Gently remove the old dressing. Be careful not to touch any drainage that may be on the
dressing. Also be careful not to pull out the catheter.
8. Put the old dressing into the plastic bag.
9. Next check the site for signs of infection. If you notice any of the following, call your
doctor or nurse:
10. Wash your hands again.
11. Clean the site with the saline solution using a sterile swab. Clean from the catheter site
outward. Do not put a used swab back into the saline mixture. Repeat this with the
second swab. If your nurse or doctor has instructed you to do so, you may wash the site
with warm water and soap rather than the saline mixture.
12. Holding the gauze by the edges, place the split gauze around the SP catheter. Cover with
the dry, sterile, non-split gauze. Tape around the edges.
13. Put the used supplies in the plastic bag with the old dressing, seal the bag and put it in the
14. Wash the work surface with soap and warm water.
15. Wash your hands again.
When to Call Your Doctor or Nurse
Call your doctor or nurse if any of the following problems occur:
1. The catheter does not drain any urine.
2. The urine becomes bloody and does not clear after resting for about 30 minutes and/or
drinking four glasses of fluids. A small amount of bleeding is not unusual.
3. There is drainage around the catheter.
4. The site becomes red, warm, and swollen.
5. The catheter falls out.
6. Your temperature is greater than 100.5º F (orally) taken two times 4 hours apart.
Post-Void Residual (PVR) Checks
Occasionally, it is necessary to check how much urine remains in the bladder after you urinate.
This is called a Post-Void Residual (PVR) check. Your doctor will instruct you when to do this.
You should begin ____________________.
1. To start this procedure, clamp the SP catheter by turning the stopcock so that it forms a
“T” with the tubing (perpendicular). If there is not a stopcock in-line, you may use a
metal or plastic clamp.
2. Wait a maximum of four hours after you clamp the tube then try to urinate. If you are
unable to wait that long, you may urinate sooner.
If you are unable to urinate, open the clamp or stopcock and drain the urine and record the
amount. If you are very uncomfortable before four hours, open the stopcock or clamp
earlier. Record the amount of urine that was in your bladder.
3. If you were able to urinate, measure the amount using the container provided.
4. Discard the urine into the toilet.
5. Immediately open the stopcock or clamp. Urine will drain into the bag connected to the
catheter. Leave the catheter open for 5 minutes to make sure that all the urine has drained
6. When the urine has all drained out, close the stopcock or clamp.
7. Empty the urine from the bag into the empty container you urinated into.
8. Measure the amount of urine. This amount may be greater or less than the amount you
urinated. It is also possible that there will not be any urine left in your bladder after you
9. Keep a record of how much you urinate and how much urine is left in your bladder.
Example: Void 250 - PVR 75
10. Bring the record along when you come for your clinic visit.
11. If you are instructed to call your doctor with the results you should do so on
Unless you are told to do otherwise, you may open the catheter at bedtime and leave it open for
the night. In the morning reclamp it and check your PVR.
Your doctor will tell you when you should return to the clinic to have the catheter removed.
Your tube will be removed when you are able to urinate more than is left in your bladder after
voiding and when your doctor feels that you have healed.
UW Health Urology 608-263-4757
UW Health at The American Center Urology 608-440-6464
UW Health One South Park Urology 608-287-2900
UW Health Gynecology 608-263-6340
After Hours, Nights, Weekends, and Holidays, the clinic number is answered by the paging
operator. Ask for the Urology Doctor on call. Leave your name and phone number with the area
code. The doctor will call you back.
Toll Free: 1-844-607-4800
Your medical record number _____________________________
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©7/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4593.