Suprapubic Catheter (SPC) for Urinary Drainage in NYC

by Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger, a board-certified urologist, and specialist in the treatment of urinary problems in men and women including frequent urination, burning with urination, and urinary retention.  

If you have any questions, to schedule a consultation or if you need a second opinion, please contact us or call: 646-663-4151

Suprapubic Catheter Insertion and Change  

What is a Suprapubic Catheter?

A suprapubic catheter (SPC) or suprapubic tube (SPT) is a thin plastic tube that is inserted through the lower abdomen directly into the urinary bladder to drain the urine.

When is a Suprapubic Catheter Used?

An SPC is typically placed by urologists after surgery on the bladder, urethra, or prostate. In such patients, it serves as a temporary solution to drain the bladder after prostate surgery or urethral surgery such as urethroplasty. It may also be placed for permanent urine drainage in patients where a urethral catheter cannot be used or causes discomfort or complications.

Long-term SPC can be used for urinary bladder drainage in patients with:

  • Neurogenic bladder
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Urinary retention due to atonic bladder (non-functioning bladder muscles), urethral stricture, or multiple sclerosis and other neurological problems
  • Urinary obstruction due to enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, or radiation injury to the urethra
  • Frequent UTI and urinary incontinence
  • Urethral stricture
  • Urethral trauma

Advantages of Suprapubic Catheter Over Urethral Foley catheter

A suprapubic catheter is placed into the bladder through the lower abdomen. A urethral catheter is placed into the bladder through the urethra. Both can be accomplished with a Foley catheter. In other words, a Foley catheter may be inserted into the bladder through the urethra or through the lower abdomen. A Foley catheter is a type of catheter that has an inflatable balloon that prevents it from coming out.

The advantage of an SPC over a urethral Foley is a lower infection rate. In addition, many patients who require prolonged catheterization find that an SPC is more comfortable than a urethral catheter.

Suprapubic Catheter Care

Cleaning a suprapubic catheter is necessary to avoid infections. This can be accomplished by washing the area with regular soap and water and gently patting dry. Cleaning should be performed at least once a day.  It is important to seek medical attention if there is redness, swelling, pain, or pus near the insertion site. Washing hands before and after touching the tubing also reduce the risk of infections. Suprapubic catheter and swimming in a pool is permitted provided the skin around the insertion site has healed and the water is clean. Small drainage bags that fit inside a bathing suit are available for patients who wish to swim; the catheter may also be plugged temporarily. Patients with an SPC may engage in sexual activity. Talk to the board-certified urologists at New York Urology Specialists today for any questions or concerns about living with a suprapubic catheter.

Improving Quality of Life in Patients with SPC

Many patients who have an SPC may be good candidates for using a catheter plug instead of having a permanently attached drainage bag. With a catheter plug, the patient usually will go to the bathroom, unplug the catheter, and empty the bladder every few hours. Many patients find this to be a much more comfortable solution than walking around with a drainage bag. In addition, not having a bag improves the patient’s mobility, self-confidence, and ability to engage in social activities.

Side Effects of Suprapubic Tube

There are some risks associated with an SPT. The most significant risks are infection and injury to the bowel during insertion. Typically, the procedure is done under ultrasound guidance in the office. It can also be done as an open procedure in the operating room. This helps prevent the risk of injury to the bowel and adjacent organs.

Long-term risks include suprapubic catheter infection and UTI (urinary tract infections). It is important to understand that infections are not very common. In fact, they are much less common than if the patient has a Foley in the urethra.

In addition to the small risk of infection and bleeding, patients with an SPT may experience symptoms such as urinary urgency, frequency, and bladder spasms. In patients who require long-term suprapubic catheterization, or Foley catheter placement for that matter, there is a small risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma as a result of constant irritation. For this reason, patients who require catheterization for more than 2 years are advised to have annual screening cystoscopy.

Suprapubic Catheter Insertion in New York City

At New York Urology Specialists, our urologists have extensive experience in placing SPCs. Typically, the procedure is performed under local anesthesia in our office and takes less than 30 minutes. Most patients experience minimal to no pain.

Suprapubic Catheter Change in New York City

Patients with SPC are advised to have catheter changes about once a month to minimize the risk of infection. At New York Urology Specialists, our medical professionals are experienced in suprapubic catheter assessment. We also see patients for changing a suprapubic catheter under sterile conditions.

Removing a Suprapubic Catheter

An SPC can be removed in our office without the need for anesthesia. Typically, it is changed on a monthly basis or if an infection occurs. Once the underlying problem that required SPC placement has resolved and it is no longer needed, it can be removed. The skin opening into the bladder typically heals within 2-3 weeks after removal of the tube.

Treatment of Bladder Spasms in Patients with SPT

In patients with SPC who are experiencing bladder spasms, the symptoms can be managed with a change of Foley to a catheter with a smaller tip. Some patients may benefit from using a silicone catheter. Anticholinergic medications such as Vesicare and oxybutynin may be helpful for many patients experiencing bladder spasms. However, anticholinergic medications are not advisable as a long-term solution as they are associated with cognitive impairment (memory loss). Myrbetriq is another medication that may be effective in patients with bladder spasms. In patients who are unresponsive to medications and those who require long-term suprapubic catheterization, injection of Botox into the bladder muscles may help alleviate bladder spasms.

Treatment of Suprapubic Catheter Leaking

Many patients with an SPC experience occasional urinary leakage around the insertion site. Urinary leakage can be a sign of urinary tract infection (UTI). More commonly, leakage around the suprapubic catheter is a sign of bladder spasms. Appropriate treatment of bladder spasms often resolves the leakage. Some patients may require a larger sized catheter to prevent leakage.

Why Choose New York Urology Specialists for Treatment of Suprapubic Catheter Tube Management?

  • All treatment is performed by a Board-certified urologist experienced in treating men with symptoms of frequent urination, urinary urgency, urinary incontinence and bladder pain using medical therapy, minimally invasive therapies, lasers, and open surgery.
  • We are one of the few practices in the region to offer a full range of options for treatment of urinary problems in men and women
  • We offer treatment options for overactive bladder, UTI, and urinary incontinence in our office which avoids the risks, costs, and recovery from general anesthesia.  
  • Extensive Experience: Hundreds of men and wo men have been treated successfully using medical therapy, Botox for overactive bladder, Interstim for frequent urination and tibial neuromodulation.

Excellence-Urology_Care VasectomyWhen it comes to experience and innovation – New York Urology Specialists are a step ahead.  Better Science Means Better Care.  We specialize in minimally invasive highly effective treatment for symptoms of bladder pain, urethral burning, pelvic discomfort, incomplete bladder emptying, urinary frequency, and urgency. Many treatment procedures are performed in the convenience and privacy of office settings under local anesthesia.

If you have any questions, to schedule a consultation or if you need a second opinion, please contact us or call: 646-663-4151

Medicare and major insurances accepted.   We offer affordable rates and financing options.

Schedule an Appointment with Dr. Shteynshlyuger:

Call today: 646-663-4151 or make an appointment online

Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger is a fellowship trained board-certified urologist with expertise in evaluation and treatment of urinary problems.  He uses modern effective and proven treatment methods including Botox for OAB, Interstim neuromodulation.  He is highly recommended by top primary care physicians in the New York area.

He has successfully treated hundreds of men and women of all ages with urinary problems including bladder problems, kidney problems, urethral and ureteral problems. 

If you or someone you know has been experiencing urological symptoms, make an appointment to take advantage of Dr. Shteynshlyuger’s expert advice. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.


If you have any questions, to schedule a consultation or if you need a second opinion, please contact us or call: 646-663-4151

We offer affordable, highest-quality urology care with or without insurance.   Find out our office hours or directions to our office. We offer weekday, weekend, and evening office hours.

If you have any questions, to schedule a consultation or if you need a second opinion, please contact us or call: 646-663-4151

Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger is a board-certified urologist in NYC who specializes in treating men and women with urinary problems including frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder, urinary urgency and incontinence.