Discharge Instructions: Caring for Your Suprapubic Catheter

You are going home with a suprapubic catheter in place. This tube is placed directly into the bladder through your abdomen to drain urine from your bladder. You were shown how to care for your catheter in the hospital. This sheet will help remind you of those steps and guidelines when you are at home.

Home care

  • Shower as necessary. There is a shield over your tube. It’s okay for the shield to get wet, but not the area around your tube. 

  • Change your dressing every day. Change the dressing more often if it falls off, becomes dirty, or has absorbed a lot of drainage.

Gather your supplies

  • Tape

  • Povidone-iodine ointment

  • Cotton swabs

  • Wastebasket and plastic bag

  • Povidone-iodine swab sticks (or cotton balls and povidone-iodine solution)

  • Dressing sponges (4″ x 4″) that are cut or split halfway into the middle

Remove the dressing and check for problems

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after all catheter care.

  • Gently remove the old dressing if you have one.

    • Don’t pull on the tube.

    • Check the dressing for drainage. Notice whether anything looks unusual or smells bad.

    • Place your dressing in the plastic bag and throw it away in the wastebasket.

  • Now look at the place where the catheter leaves your body (exit site).

    • Note any swelling, bleeding, irritation, unusual or smelly drainage.

    • Also check for any sores next to the exit site. Sores form around the exit site if there is too much pressure from the tube on the skin.

Clean the area

  • Wash around the shield gently with soap and water.

  • Use a povidone-iodine swab stick to clean under the shield.

    • Clean around the exit site of the catheter.

    • Start at the exit site and clean outward in a circular motion, about 3 to 4 inches from the site.

      Don’t clean back toward the tube.

    • Throw away the used swab stick and repeat the cleaning procedure with a new one.

    • Let your skin dry completely.

  • Place a split 4″ x 4″ sponge around the catheter. Tape it in place.

  • Smear a thin layer of povidone-iodine ointment around the catheter with a cotton swab.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your health care provider.

When to call your health care provider

Call your health care provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Catheter that falls out, or is clogged or feels clogged

  • Stitches that fall out

  • Urine leaking around catheter

  • Urine that is cloudy, bloody, or smells bad

  • No urine drainage

  • Bladder that feels full or painful

  • Rash, itching, redness, swelling, or drainage at the catheter site

  • Fever above 100.4°F (38.°C) or shaking chills


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