What are the possible complications of suprapubic catheters 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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Some of the potential complications with long-term suprapubic catheterization are similar to those associated with indwelling urethral catheters, including leakage around the catheter, bladder stone formation, UTI, and catheter obstruction. Potential problems unique to suprapubic catheters include cellulitis around the tube site, hematoma, bowel injury, and difficulties with catheter reinsertion.

The potential for bowel injury exists during the initial placement of a suprapubic tube. Although uncommon, bowel perforation is known to occur in this circumstance.

If the suprapubic tube falls out inadvertently, the exit hole of the tube seals up and closes quickly within 24 hours if the tube is not replaced with a new one. If tube dislodgment is recognized promptly, a new tube can be reinserted quickly and painlessly as long as the tube site remains patent.

Long-term management of a suprapubic tube also may be problematic if the health care provider lacks the knowledge and expertise of suprapubic catheters or if the homebound individual lacks quick access to a medical center in case of an emergency. Nevertheless, in the right hands, the suprapubic catheter affords many advantages over long-term urethral catheters.

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