A suprapubic catheter is a flexible rubber or plastic tube that is placed directly into the bladder. The suprapubic catheter is surgically implanted via an abdominal incision and is used as a urinary drainage method. Typically, a this catheter is used in instances where there is difficulty in the passage of urine. Common conditions that may obstruct the passage of urine and warrant a catheter are infection and urinary trauma. In addition, a paralyzed patient may benefit from this type of catheter.
Generally, an interrupted flow of urine can warrant a suprapubic catheter. Sometimes, an enlarged prostate may obstruct the flow of urine, causing urinary retention. This condition may cause the patient to encounter difficulty with urine drainage. Similarly, women who have a medical condition known as a cystocele, where the bladder has fallen through the vagina, may have difficulty passing urine. In either case, an acute diagnosis may require a catheter.
Since the placement of the catheter is a surgical procedure, it must be performed by a physician. Typically, a urologist will perform the procedure. A urologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diseases and conditions of the urinary system. Generally, during the procedure, the urologist will surgically insert the catheter just about the area of the pubic bone. The procedure is performed under sterile conditions and is usually done in an outpatient or office setting.
After the catheter is placed, it is attached to a drainage or collection bag. Generally, the urinary bag is marked with standard fluid measurements that allow medical personnel to measure urinary output. In the cognizant and able patient, care for the suprapubic catheter may be performed by himself. Keeping the stoma, or the opening for the catheter, impeccably clean to avoid infection is important. The physician or nurse will give the patient directions on caring for the catheter.
Sometimes, the patient who has a suprapubic catheter is hospitalized, in which case the care of the catheter and stoma is done by medical personnel. Typically, the registered or practical nurse will clean and change the apparatus. In addition, the nurse will keep a record of intake and urinary output of the patient. These records generally become a permanent addition to the patient's medical chart.
While hospitalized, the patient usually is monitored for signs and symptoms of urinary tract infection and other catheter-related complications. Signs and symptoms may include blood in the collection bag, pain in the bladder area and urinary burning. In addition to infection, complications with urinary drainage may be observed, such as a decrease in urinary output. Signs and symptoms of infection and fluctuations in urinary output should be reported to the physician so swift medical intervention can be employed.