Pronounced: sup-ra-pyoo-bik sis-tos-toe-me
by Deanna M. Neff, MPH
Suprapubic cystostomy is a procedure to help drain the bladder (organ that collects and holds urine). A tube called a catheter, which leads out of the lower abdomen, is inserted to drain the bladder.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
This procedure is done if you cannot urinate and a catheter cannot be passed through your urethra to help you urinate. The urethra is where urine passes out of the body from the bladder. Urine may not be able pass through the urethra due to:
The procedure may also be done if you need to:
Possible Complications TOP
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
Your risk of complications may also increase if you have:
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do the following:
Talk to your doctor about any medications, herbs, or supplements you are taking. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
In the days before the surgery:
Note: These steps may not be possible in an emergency situation.
Local anesthesia may be used with or without sedation. You will not have any pain during the procedure.
Description of the Procedure TOP
After anesthesia has numbed the area, the doctor will locate the bladder using imaging tools such as ultrasound if needed. Next, a needle will be inserted through your lower abdomen and into your bladder. A wire will then be guided through the needle into the bladder to prepare the site for a catheter. A special catheter will be placed into the bladder over the wire. The catheter will be sutured in place. A balloon may be inflated to keep the catheter in place. Afterward, the opening made in the skin (called a stoma) will be covered with gauze.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
How Much Will It Hurt? TOP
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Average Hospital Stay TOP
You will either stay in the hospital overnight or go home the same day.
Post-procedure Care TOP
At the Hospital
The hospital staff will:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
You will have to restrict your activities while you recover. Follow instructions on cleaning the stoma. It will help prevent infection. The hospital staff will teach you how to change the catheter and collection bag. Your doctor may advise medication, such as pain relievers or antibiotics.
Call Your Doctor TOP
After you leave the hospital, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Urology Care Foundation
Canadian Urological Association
Aguilera PA, Choi T, et al. Ultrasound-guided suprapubic cystostomy catheter placement in the emergency department. J Emerg Med. 2004;26(3):319-321.
Care of a suprapubic cystostomy. Danbury Hospital Patient Education website. Available at:
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Accessed October 19, 2012.
Last reviewed January 2015 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 4/29/2014