Suprapubic Cystostomy

(Cystostomy, Suprapubic)

Pronounced: sup-ra-pyoo-bik sis-tos-toe-me


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.

Bladder and Urethra (Female)

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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:

  • Narrowing of the urethra
  • Other blockage due to:
    • Kidney stones
    • Inflammation
    • Infection
    • Injury
    • Prostate disease (in men)

The procedure may also be done if you need to:

  • Avoid damaging the urethra
  • Have surgery on the urethra or nearby structures
  • Have a catheter in your body long-term

Possible Complications    TOP

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. Your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Damage to the bowel or other surrounding structures
  • Need for a repeat procedure
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Anesthesia reaction

Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Chronic disease such as diabetes or obesity

Your risk of complications may also increase if you have:

  • Bleeding disorders
  • Taken medications that reduce blood clotting
  • Had previous abdominal surgery
  • Bladder cancer

What to Expect    TOP

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor may do the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Imaging, blood, and urine tests
  • Talk about the anesthesia being used and the potential risks

You should also talk to your doctor about your medicines. If this is not an emergency situation, you may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure. These medicines may include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Blood thinners
  • Anti-platelets

Your doctor may ask you to take certain medicines before surgery.

In the days before the surgery:

  • Arrange for a ride home from the hospital.
  • You may need to avoid eating for eight hours before the surgery.
  • If instructed by your doctor, drink only clear liquids (such as water, clear juices, tea). You may be asked to drink extra fluids to fill the bladder.

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

10-45 minutes

How Much Will It Hurt?    TOP

Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. You will be given pain medicine to ease pain and soreness after the surgery.

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:

  • Monitor your recovery
  • Help you to eat and move around again
  • Give you pain medicine
  • Teach you how to care for your catheter

During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your incisions covered

There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
  • Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
  • Not allowing others to touch your incisions
At Home

When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • Take medicines as directed.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects for two weeks.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (8-10 glasses per day).
  • Do not drive or have sex until your doctor tells you that it is safe to do so.
  • Follow the guidelines for changing the catheter and collection bag.
  • Keep the stoma site clean and dry:
    • Cleaning the incision site as directed.
    • Using a soft washcloth to gently wipe the incision area.
    • Changing dressings daily, or more as directed.
    • Asking your doctor when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.

Call Your Doctor    TOP

After you leave the hospital, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Pain or cramps
  • Redness or soreness around the catheter site
  • Catheter fails to drain
  • Catheter falls outs
  • Changes in frequency, odor, appearance, or volume of urine
  • Signs of infection, including fever or chills
  • Bloody urine

In case of 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:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed October 19, 2012.
Last reviewed March 2014 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 4/29/2014