When is a suprapubic catheter indicated in urinary incontinence treatment?

Updated: Jan 22, 2021
  • Author: Sandip P Vasavada, MD; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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The most common use of a suprapubic catheter is in individuals with spinal cord injuries and a malfunctioning bladder. It also can be used in patients with intractable decompensated bladders or complicated urethral strictures. Both paraplegic and quadriplegic patients have benefited from this form of urinary diversion.

Other indications for suprapubic catheters include short-term use following gynecologic, urologic, and other types of surgery. Suprapubic catheters may be used whenever the clinical situation requires the use of a bladder drainage device.

Suprapubic catheters are contraindicated in persons with chronic unstable bladders or intrinsic sphincter deficiency because involuntary urine loss is not prevented. A suprapubic tube does not prevent bladder spasms from occurring in unstable bladders nor does it improve the urethral closure mechanism in an incompetent urethra.

When suprapubic tubes are needed, usually smaller (eg, 14F, 16F) catheters can be placed, although some practitioners prefer a larger tube (eg, 24F-28F), especially if they are concerned about the catheter becoming clogged. As with urethral catheters, the suprapubic tubes should be changed at least once a month on a regular basis.

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