>RCP – Suprapubic Aspiration PoCUS

Suprapubic aspiration – when the catheter doesn’t cut it.

Resident Clinical Pearl (RCP) – Guest Resident Edition

Sean Davis MD, PGY2 Family Medicine

Dalhousie University, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

Reviewed and Edited by Dr. David Lewis


Urine is routinely analyzed and cultured as part of a sick child workup, as diagnosis of urinary tract infection can be difficult in pre-verbal children. They are unable to “point where it hurts”, and physical exam can be both difficult and unreliable in an irritable or obtunded infant. Urine may be collected in three ways – by “clean catch” collection, transurethral catheterization (TUC), and suprapubic aspiration (SPA). Given the inherent risk of contamination with local flora (over 25% in one cohort study)1, clean catch urine is typically useful only for ruling out UTI. TUC is more commonly performed as it does not require physician participation, but SPA remains a valid option for obtaining a urine sample for analysis and culture in children under the age of 2. It has been shown to have a significantly lower rate of contamination than TUC (1% versus 12%, respectively)1, although failure rates are higher with SPA4. Use of portable ultrasound has been shown to significantly increase the rate of success of SPA (79% US guided vs 52% blind)5.


RCP – The pee or not the pee: so many questions!



  • Labial adhesions/edema
  • Phimosis
  • Diarrhea
  • Unsuccessful urethral catheterization
  • Urethral/introital surgery
  • Urethral stricture
  • Urethral trauma
  • Urinary retention
  • Urinalysis/culture in children younger than 2 years
  • Chronic urethral/periurethral gland infection

Contraindications: 2,3

  • Genitourinary abnormalities (congenital or acquired)
  • Empty or unidentifiable bladder
  • Bladder tumor
  • Lower abdominal scarring
  • Overlying infection
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Organomegaly

Complications: 2,3

  • Gross hematuria
  • Abdominal wall cellulitis
  • Bowel perforation

Equipment: 2,3

  • Lidocaine for local anesthesia (1% or 2%, with or without epinephrine)
  • Adhesive bandaid
  • Povidone-iodine or Chlorhexidine prep
  • 25g to 27g 1” needle
  • 22g or 23g 1.5” needle
  • Sterile 5ml and 10ml syringes

Procedure (ultrasound-guided): 2,3

  • Position the patient supine in frog-leg position, using parent or caregiver to assist with immobilization.
  • Using sterile technique, identify the bladder on ultrasound; it appears as an anechoic ovoid structure just below the abdominal musculature.
    • Landmarking: midline lower abdomen, just above the pubic symphysis
  • Mark the area and sterilize; infiltrate local anesthetic into the marked area
  • Insert the needle slightly cephalad, 10-20° off perpendicular while aspirating until urine appears.
  • If the insertion is unsuccessful, do not withdraw the needle fully. Instead, pull back until the needle tip rests in the subcutaneous tissue and then redirect 10° in either direction. Do not attempt more than 3 times.
  • One sufficient urine is obtained, withdraw the needle and place a sterile dressing at the site of the insertion.



From: Performing Medical Procedures – NEJM



    1. Contamination rates of different urine collection methods for the diagnosis of urinary tract infections in young children: an observational cohort study. Tosif S; Baker A; Oakley E; Donath S; Babl FE. J Paediatr Child Health. 2012; 48(8):659-64 (ISSN: 1440-1754). Retrieved from https://reference.medscape.com/medline/abstract/22537082 on December 10, 2017
    2. Suprapubic Aspiration. Alexander D Tapper, MD, Chirag Dave, MD, Adam J Rosh, MD, Syed Mohammad Akbar Jafri, MD. Medscape. Updated: Mar 31, 2017. Retrieved from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/82964-overview#a4 on December 10, 2017
    3. Suprapubic Bladder Aspiration. Jennifer R. Marin, M.D., Nader Shaikh, M.D., Steven G. Docimo, M.D., Robert W. Hickey, M.D., and Alejandro Hoberman, M.D. N Engl J Med 2014; 371:e13September 4, 2014DOI: 10.1056/NEJMvcm1209888. Retrieved from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMvcm1209888 on December 10, 2017
    4. Suprapubic bladder aspiration versus urethral catheterization in ill infants: success, efficiency and complication rates. Pollack CV Jr, Pollack ES, Andrew ME. Ann Emerg Med. 1994 Feb;23(2):225-30. Retrieved December 10, 2017.
    5. Use of portable ultrasound to assist urine collection by suprapubic aspiration. Gochman RF1, Karasic RB, Heller MB. Ann Emerg Med. 1991 Jun;20(6):631-5. Retrieved December 10, 2017.


Other PEM PoCUS Videos Here



Print Friendly, PDF & Email