Catheterisation and supra pubic urine aspiration

Disclaimer: This fact sheet is for education purposes only. Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for your child.

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The only way to find out whether your child has a urine infection is to have a sample of urine collected. This sample needs to be taken carefully, so that it is clean and free from contamination. A good sample means that your child can get the right treatment.

How can you get a urine sample?

There are 2 ways a very clean sample of urine can be collected. It can be by catheterisation or supra pubic urine aspiration. The doctor will let you know which method of testing is best for your child.

What is catheterisation?

A catheter is a fine, sterile, plastic tube, which is used to collect the urine. After cleaning the area, the catheter is lubricated and then inserted into your child's urinary passage (where the urine comes out). The urine sample is collected quickly and the catheter is then taken out. The whole process takes only a few minutes. It is uncomfortable and some children find it hard to keep still. Afterwards the area can be a bit sore.

What is supra pubic urine aspiration?

In very young babies it is possible to get a urine sample by putting a very fine needle into the lower stomach area, and into the bladder (where the urine collects). This is a very safe way of collecting a urine sample. Local anaesthetic cream may be placed on your baby or child, (depending on their age). The doctor may use a bladder scanner or an ultra sound to check how full you baby’s bladder is. Your baby will need to be lying down and held gently but firmly while the area is cleaned and the needle inserted. The urine is collected quickly and the needle is then taken out. Occasionally some blood may be seen in the sample or in the urine later, but this will settle. The needle can hurt and keeping still is also hard for young children, but this is the cleanest test. Sometimes there is not enough urine in the bladder to get a sample, so it might be necessary to try again later or collect a urine sample another way.

With both tests it is important for your child to have urine in their bladder. If there is not much urine in the bladder it may be difficult to get a sample. The doctor or nurse may ask you to give your child a drink before the sample is collected.

What can I do to help?

Cuddling your child while the urine sample is taken can help comfort them. If you cannot stay with your child then a staff member will hold your child instead.

Hospitals can be frightening places for children. At times it is helpful to tell stories, talk about the family or anything else that may help to take their mind off what is being done. Stay calm and reassure them. If you get upset, so will your child. If your child asks about the tests being done, reassure them and explain in simple terms what is being done and why. Always tell the truth.

How long does it take to get the results?

Some results from the urine test will be available quickly, but it will take one or two days to get the final result from the culture. The doctor or nurse will tell you how to find out the results and what treatment your child needs such as antibiotics or other tests.

The staff are there to help you and your child. If you would like more information please ask the nurse or doctor caring for your child.


It is helpful to comfort your child while they are having this test done.

The doctor will let you know which method of testing will be used for your child. 

The Children's Hospital at Westmead
Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick
Hunter New England Kids Health

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