BJU Int 2020; 126: 416–422 doi:10.1111/bju.15123ReviewBritish Association of Urological Surgeonssuprapubic catheter practice guidelines – revisedSusan Jane Hall1Parkinson1, Simon Harrison2, Chris Harding3, Sheilagh Reid4 and Richard1Nottingham City Hospital, Nottingham, 2Pinderﬁelds General Hospital, Wakeﬁeld, West Yorkshire, 3Freeman Hospital,Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and 4Shefﬁeld Teaching Hospitals, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Broomhall, Shefﬁeld, UKAimsTo report the updated and revised British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS) guideline on indications, safeinsertion and subsequent care of suprapubic catheters (SPCs).MethodsThe existing BAUS guideline on the insertion of SPCs was reviewed and has been updated in light of both activity andoutcome data published since the original guideline was written. A systematic review of all new data from 2010 onwardswas carried out. This updated guideline is largely evidence-based but, where evidence was lacking, is based on the consensusof expert opinion from members of the BAUS Section of Female, Neurological and Urodynamic Urology.ResultsSuprapubic catheterization is widely used and generally considered a safe procedure. There is, however, a small risk of seriouscomplications including bowel injury. The BAUS has produced an updated consensus statement on SPC use with the aim ofminimizing risks and establishing best practice. Areas for future research and development are also highlighted. This reviewhas been commissioned and approved by the BAUS and the Section of Female, Neurological and Urodynamic Urology.ConclusionsWhile SPC insertion is generally regarded as a safe procedure, the risk of serious morbidity and death must always beconsidered and outlined to patients. These revised guidelines should assist in minimizing the morbidity associated with SPCusage.Keywordsguidelines, catheter, suprapubic, safety, bowel injury, cystotomyIntroductionThe suprapubic catheter (SPC) is commonly used for bothemergency and long-term bladder drainage, with 6706 SPCinsertions recorded in the UK between April 2017 and March2018 . In all, 25% of SPC insertions are performed in anemergency setting , commonly using a trocar kit. ElectiveSPC insertion can be performed in an outpatient setting, in aradiology suite or in theatre, as a cystoscopic,ultrasonography-guided or open technique.The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) brought the risksof SPC insertion to the attention of the NHS in 2009, reportingthree deaths and seven cases of severe harm from SPC insertionover a 4-year period , with inadvertent bowel injury being animportant cause of morbidity and mortality. Data publishedwileyonlinelibrary.combefore the NPSA report suggested the risk of bowel injury was2.4–2.7% [4,5]. Shortly afterwards, the BAUS publishedguidelines for safe SPC insertion . Subsequent studies havereported a lower rate of bowel injury of 0–0.2% [7–12],suggesting a signiﬁcant impact from the original BAUSguideline. We present an update to the BAUS guideline in lightof these new data. This update will concentrate mostly onclarifying points of technique and the technological changessince the previous report.MethodsA systematic and easily reproducible review strategy wasemployed. The databases of MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE,PubMed and the Cochrane library were used to search forpapers relating to suprapubic catheterization since the 2020 The AuthorsBJU International 2020 BJU InternationalPublished by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. www.bjui.org
BAUS suprapubic catheter practice guidelines– revisedpublication of the initial guidelines in 2010. The search termsused were: suprapubic; cystostomy; catheter; complications;and bowel (with the Boolean operators AND, OR).The initial search identiﬁed 21 new papers relevant forfurther analysis. After review by two of the authors, 16 weredeemed suitable for inclusion. Five papers were excluded,including four case reports with rare complications and oneregistry-based study deemed to be irrelevant, reporting on acountry where SPC practice differs from that in the UK. Foreach of the papers cited, the recommendation drawn fromthe paper and level of evidence assigned to the paper can befound in Appendix S1.This updated guideline is largely evidence-based but, whereevidence was lacking, is based on the consensus of expertopinion from members of the BAUS Section of Female,Neurological and Urodynamic Urology. Newrecommendations are highlighted within the text. For thoserecommendations based on evidence, the level of evidence isshown, e.g. level of evidence 2 (LE2).Indications for SPC Use Acute urinary retention in the emergency setting if urethral catheterization is difﬁcult or dangerous .Chronic urinary retention in the elective setting. Here, thesystematic review shows there is some low-quality evidenceto say that use of an SPC offers reduced episodes ofbacteriuria and pain when compared to urethralcatheterization . Use of an SPC is usually preferable tourethral catheterization in patients where long-term bladderdrainage is required to reduce the risk of, or avoid urethraldamage.Neurological disease, such as multiple sclerosis or stroke[15–17], where long-term bladder drainage is required. Inpatients who lack urethral sensation or are confused, anSPC will avoid the risk of urethral trauma.Urinary incontinence. Where urine soiling is causingincontinence-associated dermatitis or nursing caredifﬁculties.Postoperative care. An SPC is used in a variety ofprocedures including pelvic surgery, procedures for stressincontinence and colorectal surgery [18–21].Urethral trauma, in cases where ﬂuoroscopically guidedurethral catheterization has failed or is not accessible.Palliation. An SPC is used to increase comfort and simplifycare.Urodynamic assessment. Here an SPC is used in caseswhere a urethral catheter cannot be used.Recommendations Clinicians contemplating SPC placement should alwaysconsider each individual patient and whether an SPCwould offer beneﬁt over other forms of bladder drainage(intermittent catheterization, urethral catheter, pads). Before offering an SPC, clinicians should consider if theyhave access to equipment and trained staff that will enablea safe procedure to be carried out. NEW. Clinicians must consider individual risk factors forbowel injury when planning SPC insertion and mitigate forthese risks where possible. All patients must be warned of the risk of allcomplications, including bowel injury.ContraindicationsThe list of contraindications below is not exhaustive and eachcase should be considered individually. Widely acceptedcontraindications include: Carcinoma of the bladder (or undiagnosed haematuria).Uncorrected bleeding disorder or anticoagulation treatment.Abdominal wall sepsis.Presence of a subcutaneous vascular graft in the suprapubicregion, in order to avoid the rare but catastrophic report ofgraft rupture .Pre-Catheterization Assessment andConsentThe indication for suprapubic catheterization should bediscussed with the patient and alternatives considered. Patientswith urinary retention can be considered for long-termurethral catheterization or intermittent self-catheterization.Patients with incontinence may be considered for other formsof containment, such as incontinence pads or convene sheath.The risks and beneﬁts of each approach will vary betweenpatients, and counselling should be individualized to thepatient’s needs. Provision of a patient information leaﬂet is recommended. The risks of SPC insertion include: Bleeding.Pain.Infection.Risks of long-term catheterization (spasms, recurrentinfection, blockages, stones) to be covered in patientsrequiring long-term catheterization. Persistent urethral incontinence. Damage to bowel, requiring laparotomy. This can be lifethreatening, especially in frail patients. Suprapubic site infection.Clinicians must establish any history of contraindication toSPC insertion, including bleeding disorders or anticoagulationtreatment, bladder cancer (known or suspected) and vasculargrafts. The risk of autonomic dysreﬂexia needs to beconsidered in neuropathic patients with spinal cord lesionabove T6; general anaesthesia should be considered in at-riskpatients. 2020 The AuthorsBJU International 2020 BJU International417
ReviewClinicians should also ascertain any risk factors for bowelinjury. The following are accepted risk factors for bowelinjury during SPC insertion (expert opinion): Previous lower abdominal surgery, including laparoscopicsurgery, where the bladder has been mobilized. Inability to distend the bladder sufﬁciently.Suprapubic catheter placement should only be performed byclinicians who are trained and conﬁdent to perform theprocedure. Aspiration as a method of bladder decompressioncan be used as a temporizing measure when specialistpersonnel or equipment are not available. In the absence of aclear evidence base, the authors recommend a 21-G needle,inserted one ﬁnger breadth above the pubic symphysis in thevertical plane, with urine aspirated until the patient iscomfortable.Method of Suprapubic Catheter InsertionEmergency SPC insertion is commonly performed in patientswith acute urinary retention not amenable to urethralcatheterization and in patients with urethral trauma. Insertionof a SPC using a trocar kit may be considered providingthere are no contraindications to SPC insertion, no riskfactors for bowel injury, and the bladder is fully distendedand palpable. Palpation, percussion and portable bladderscanners will help determine if the bladder is sufﬁciently full.Where the bladder cannot reliably be palpated,ultrasonography guidance should be considered. Ultrasoundexamination in the hands of a trained practitioner canfacilitate identiﬁcation of the bladder and, critically, a safepathway into the bladder that avoids entry into the peritonealcavity. This allows placement of the SPC using a Seldingertechnique.A history of undergoing surgery should be determined fromthe clinical records, patient history and examination of theabdomen. In patients with lower abdominal surgery, there isa risk of abdominal adhesions and bowel interpositionbetween the lower abdominal wall and the bladder. The riskof bowel injury is therefore signiﬁcantly higher in suchpatients . Clinicians should be aware that certainlaparoscopic operations will also be associated with increasedrisk of bowel interposition; for example, laparoscopic radicalprostatectomy entails the mobilization of the bladder awayfrom the anterior abdominal wall; SPC insertion in suchpatients mandates the same precautions as those used afteropen surgery. Although there is a lack of evidence on thereliability of ultrasonography to detect this, ultrasonographyis thought to be helpful in avoiding bowel injury in thesecircumstances [10,25].The use of ultrasonography to identify interposed loops ofbowel can be challenging. If used for this purpose it isimportant that the operator has the necessary training and418 2020 The AuthorsBJU International 2020 BJU Internationalexpertise to identify bowel loops. The ultrasonography shouldbe performed synchronously with needle insertion to allowthe track of the needle to be seen in real time.Ultrasonography (or other imaging) performed separately(non-contemporaneously) to the SPC insertion is less reliable,although this conclusion is based on expert opinion only.When planning elective SPC insertion the clinician shouldconsider the use of a cystoscopy to aid safe insertion. Thiswill allow adequate bladder distension and visualconﬁrmation of entry to the bladder at a desired point, butdoes not ensure there is no bowel loop between skin andbladder.Alternatively, open cystotomy may also be considered inpatients requiring SPC insertion where trocar techniques aredeemed unsuitable or high risk (for example, ifultrasonography identiﬁes interposing bowel loops), or forpatients undergoing a concurrent open abdominalprocedure. While this does not completely avoid the risk ofbowel injury, the risks are likely to be reduced. However,open cystotomy has a higher incidence of other morbidity,including wound infection or pain, and is likely to entail alonger hospital stay.Recommendations Ultrasonography guidance should be used in those inwhom the bladder cannot be readily palpated. Ultrasonography may also be used in patients with lowerabdominal scarring (LE2). NEW. Ultrasonography should be performed by a suitablytrained practitioner and at the same time as SPCplacement. Open cystotomy can also be considered to mitigate the riskof bowel injury. Appropriate consent, aided by the provision of writteninformation, is required.TechniqueIn rare cases where SPC is not feasible or possible, aspirationwith a 21-G needle is a suitable temporizing procedure andcan be performed by most medics under guidance withoutthe need for prior training.An SPC can be placed using approximately 20 mL of localanaesthesia, inﬁltrated along the whole of the proposed SPCtrack. An example of local anaesthesia use would be 10 mL1% lidocaine with 10 mL 0.5% levobupivacaine, mixed to giveshort- and longer-acting analgesia.Although antibiotics are not required routinely, prophylaxisshould be considered in patients with potential colonization(recent UTI or instrumentation such as multiple failedcatheter attempts) or comorbidities that would increase
BAUS suprapubic catheter practice guidelines– revisedinfection risk. Antibiotic choice should be guided by culturesand local guidelines.Anticoagulation including antiplatelet medication should, as ageneral rule, be discontinued. Local guidelines should befollowed on this.The bladder should be adequately ﬁlled to allow safe SPCinsertion. A volume of at least 300 mL is recommended toraise the dome to 5 cm above the pubic symphysis ;distension with larger volumes of ﬂuid should increase themargin of safety for the procedure, as the ‘target’ area forentry into the bladder will be larger. Usually a distendedbladder can be palpated, but must be conﬁrmed by aspirationor ultrasonography. Cystoscopy can be used to ensureadequate bladder distention and to facilitate a satisfactorycatheter entry point.There has been no formal evaluation of the relative safety ofthe various SPC insertion techniques, although the followingare in common use: Modiﬁed trocar systems using Seldinger principle. A guideto this technique is available from the National Institute ofHealth and Care Excellence . This facilitatesultrasonography guidance and may allow a more controlledinsertion, but there is, as yet, no published evidence ofimproved safety. Trocar systems without Seldinger principle. These are alsoused but have largely been superseded by Seldinger kits inthe UK in recent years. Urethral sounds (e.g. Lowsley retractor, Haygroves sound).Inserted via the urethra, the instrument is curved to allowthe tip to press the bladder wall against the anteriorabdominal wall. The operator then cuts down onto theinstrument and attaches the catheter to its tip beforewithdrawing the instrument, drawing the catheter into thebladder . This has the advantage of allowing a largerbore catheter to be deployed if desired, but does not guardagainst bowel injury.open approach is recommended. This can be performed via asmall suprapubic incision, taking care to mobilize anyinterposing bowel away from the catheter track.No evidence is available as to whether to use a suture tosecure the catheter to the skin. All authors vary in theirclinical practice and thus suture placement is optional.Recommendations In rare cases where SPC placement is not possible or feasible, aspiration with a 21-G needle is an acceptedtemporizing measure (LE3).General anaesthesia should be considered for use inpatients at risk of autonomic dysreﬂexia or those in whomthe bladder cannot be easily ﬁlled to 300 mL (LE3).Antibiotic prophylaxis should be considered in at-riskpatients (LE3).The method of SPC insertion is a matter of individualpreference but practitioners must be adequately trained andmust evaluate the risks of bowel injury in each case (LE3).A closed technique may be used where there is no historyof lower abdominal scarring and urine can be aspiratedfrom an adequately distended bladder (LE3).Where the bladder cannot be palpated, ultrasonographyguidance may be used as an adjunct to closed insertion.Cystoscopy can also be used to facilitate bladder ﬁlling andoptimize catheter position (LE3).If the bladder cannot be adequately ﬁlled or there is lowerabdominal scarring, an ultrasonography-guided insertioncan be performed by a practitioner who is adequatelytrained. Alternatively, an open cystotomy technique shouldbe used (LE3).ComplicationsThe clinician should use the method in which they aretrained and with which they feel comfortable.Haematuria after insertion will usually stop spontaneously.Management of rare cases of signiﬁcant postoperativebleeding may be facilitated by insertion of a urethral catheterto aid irrigation, and traction on the SPC may tamponade thetrack.Whichever method is used, the catheter should ideally beinserted through the avascular midline of the rectus sheathabove the pubic symphysis. This location may not be possibleor suitable in cases of lower abdominal surgery or alteredanatomy, and clinical judgement should be used. In obesepatients, it is preferable to avoid insertion of the catheterwithin a skin fold due to risk of infection and difﬁcultcatheter changes, although this is not always possible. Acatheter size of at least 16 Ch should be used.Misplacement of a catheter, where the catheter balloon failsto reach or stay in the bladder so that it lies in the abdominalwall, should be evident at the time of insertion and requirescatheter re-insertion. Passage of the catheter tip into theurethra may present with blood at the meatus or withretention. This should be treated by emptying the balloonand withdrawing the catheter into the bladder, ideallyperformed with local anaesthesia cystoscopy to conﬁrmcorrect placement.In cases where the distended bladder cannot be readilypalpated and ultrasonography is either unavailable or fails toconﬁrm a distended bladder free of overlying bowel loops, anAnalysis of the rates of bowel injury prior to the NPSA alertand the publication of the original BAUS guidelines suggestsa historical bowel injury risk of approximately 2.5% [4,5]. 2020 The AuthorsBJU International 2020 BJU International419
ReviewStudies published subsequent to the NPSA alert and BAUSguideline publication suggest a bowel injury rate of 0–0.2%[7–12,28]. Caution must be exercised when drawingconclusions from the comparison of these different studies, asdifferences in populations and methodology will introducebias. Accepting the limitations of interpretation of theavailable data, changes in working practice since the NPSAand BAUS publications may have contributed to animprovement in bowel injury ratesAlthough rare, bowel injury can lead to serious morbidity andeven death . The presentation may be subtle, particularlyin patients with signiﬁcant comorbidities (as is not unusual inthis patient cohort), and clinicians should have a low index ofsuspicion postoperatively in a patient who complains ofsigniﬁcant pain, fever or non-speciﬁc symptoms. Carefulpostoperative examination is recommended to ensure nosigns of peritonism. If suspected, CT imaging should beobtained urgently (if available in a timely manner); alaparotomy may be required. The authors recommendprovision of written guidance for patients (and carers) withinstructions for prompt re-referral and review if there ispersistent pain, generalized abdominal pain, vomiting orsystemic symptoms. Clinicians should also be alert to thepossibility of late presentation, including at the time of ﬁrstcatheter exchange .Wound infection should be treated with antibiotics, eitheroral or parenteral, depending on the presentation. Mucusdischarge around the catheter tract or granuloma formationare common longer-term problems that can be treatedconservatively. Antibiotic treatment in the absence ofcellulitis is not recommended. Hygiene at the SPC site ishelpful and granulomas can be cauterized with a silvernitrate stick.Recommendations Cellulitis and symptomatic UTIs should be treated withantibiotics (LE3). Clinical staff, patients and carers need to be alert for thesigns and symptoms of visceral injury. Patients shouldreceive written information that includes appropriatecontact details (LE3).Long-Term CareSuprapubic catheter changes should be performed at regularintervals, as stated by the manufacturer (often 10–12 weeks);however, this can be done more often in cases of recurrentblockages. Patients and carers can also be taught how tochange the SPC as this can greatly increase independence.The ﬁrst change does not need to be performed by the teamwho inserted the catheter. The ﬁrst change should not bedone until the tract has had time to ‘mature’ (at least420 2020 The AuthorsBJU International 2020 BJU International6 weeks). Filling the bladder with 100 mL saline beforechange can help identify correct replacement.Loss of catheter tract can occur if the ﬁrst change is donebefore the tract has ‘matured’. It can also occur if the balloonis inﬂated within the tract rather than the bladder. Whenchanging the catheter this can be avoided by advancing thecatheter fully. This does however risk the catheter tip passinginto the urethra or even through the entire length of theurethra. Visual inspection of the perineum will alert cliniciansto this, and slow inﬂation of the balloon with immediaterepositioning if the patient experiences pain should beperformed. Once the patient is catheterized, correct placementcan be conﬁrmed by slowly advancing and retracting thecatheter 2 cm and feeling the balloon against the bladderwall.Failure to reinsert the catheter should prompt immediatereferral to the urology department as tract salvage may bepossible in secondary care. The tract will be lost quickly, thusimmediate referral is required.Frequent catheter blockages can be managed by using alarger-bore catheter and regular bladder washouts performedby a district nurse or the patient themselves, providing theyhave had appropriate training. Dependent catheter bags cancause a signiﬁcant siphoning effect which can cause increasedbladder mucosa catheter reaction. The polypoid mucosablocks the catheter eye holes and causes bypassing orblockages. Raising the level of the bag can reduce siphoning.Using the catheter valve and performing on clip and releasefor periods of time throughout the day also reduces this effectin appropriately selected patients.In cases of recurrent blockages, clinicians should consider thepossibility that bladder stones are present. These are notreadily identiﬁed on abdominal plain radiograph and thus acystoscopy or ultrasonography should be performed if this issuspected .Catheter bypassing can be caused by either blockage(discussed above), low outlet resistance, or detrusorcontractions. Detrusor contractions can be reduced usingantimuscarinic medication, mirabegron or intravesicalbotulinum toxin injections . Low bladder outlet resistancecan be treated using vaginal slings or, occasionally, urethralclosure. If the cause of the bypassing is unclear, urodynamicinvestigation may be of help.The option of a catheter valve offers patients more freedomwithout a ‘bag’, however, should only be offered in motivatedpatients who will empty regularly and those who do not havehigh ﬁlling pressures due to poor compliance.Bacteriuria will inevitably be present in any patient with anindwelling catheter and this should not be treated in the vastmajority cases if the patients are not symptomatic. Exceptions
BAUS suprapubic catheter practice guidelines– revisedto this would include pregnant women andimmunocompromised patients. Urine dipstick testing isunhelpful in the evaluation of suspected catheter-associatedUTI and should be avoided. In cases of symptomaticinfection, antibiotics should be given and consideration givento changing the catheter (possibly after a period of 24 h ofantibiotics) if it has been in situ for more than 7 days. Thereis little evidence that prophylactic antibiotics are effective forreducing catheter-associated UTI .Recommendations SPC changes can be performed by anyone with appropriate training (including patients).Loss of tract or failure to re-catheterize should promptimmediate referral to secondary careRegular bypassing or blockages should prompt referral tothe urology department.NEW. Cystoscopy or ultrasonography should be performedif frequent blockages are occurringNEW. Bypassing caused by detrusor contractions can bereduced using antimuscarinics, mirabegron or botulinumtoxin injections (LE2).TrainingSuprapubic catheterization should be performed in secondarycare by staff trained and competent to undertake theprocedure. Suprapubic catheter changes can be performed inthe community by nursing staff, carers or patients givenadequate training.The use of ultrasonography should only be undertaken bypersonnel trained and conﬁdent in its use. The use ofultrasonography to detect interposed bowel loops in patientsconsidered high-risk for bowel injury should be performedonly by trained practitioners.ResearchThe authors believe that high-quality studies are needed inthe following areas: Comparing the safety and efﬁcacy of the different methodsof insertion. The risks of visceral injury with and without the use ofultrasonography. The inﬂuence on bladder-ﬁlling volumes on the distancebetween the bladder reﬂection and the pubic symphysis. 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British Association of Urological Surgeons suprapubic catheter practice guidelines - revised Susan Jane Hall1, Simon Harrison2, Chris Harding3, Sheilagh Reid4 and Richard Parkinson1 1Nottingham City Hospital, Nottingham, 2Pinder ﬁelds General Hospital, Wake eld, West Yorkshire, 3Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and 4Shefﬁeld Teaching Hospitals, Royal Hallamshire Hospital .