Suprapubic catheters are used instead of the more common Foley catheter, and can be ordered for males or females. There are several reasons that this type of catheter is ordered. If the patient has had failure of the use of the urethral catheter, long-term catheter use, an obstruction of the urethra such as benign prostatic hypertrophy, or kidney stones, cancer, or congenital defects of the urethra, to name just a few. These catheters can be for life or short-term depending on the patient’s diagnosis.
The suprapubic catheter is inserted by an urologist. The area of insertion is in the abdomen just above the pubic bone, through a small incision and is inserted into the bladder. Compared to a Foley catheter, the suprapubic catheter is easier for the patient and nursing staff to care for and manage. The risk for urinary tract infections are decreased with this type of catheter.
Care has to be taken when moving a patient with a suprapubic catheter so that it is not pulled out or tugged on. The catheter is held by a small inflated balloon, resting inside the bladder. The doctor generally uses 1-2 small stitches near insertion site to help secure the catheter until scar tissue builds up around the catheter. These catheters need to be changed much less often, and if needed the nurse is trained to reinsert a new suprapubic catheter.