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Suprapubic aspirates are sometimes also called 'bladder taps' or 'SPAs'. It involves getting urine directly from the bladder to look for infection (germs). SPA's are a very safe test and problems are rare. They are usually done in younger children.
Your child lies down on his or her back and needs to be held still. A doctor puts a needle through the skin of the lower abdomen. The needle goes into the bladder and the doctor can get urine out. It is the best way to get urine from babies and small children to look for infection.
Babies and small children can't wee into a pot when asked. There are other ways to collect urine although they are not suitable to determine whether your child has an infection or not. See Kids Health Info fact sheet: Urine tests.
SPA is the "cleanest" and the best test for working out if a child really has a urine infection. If your child has a urine infection they may need other tests and treatment . See fact sheet: Urine infections.
If your baby or child's bladder is not full, the doctor may not be able to get any urine with an SPA. Sometimes we can do an ultrasound of the bladder to help work out if there is enough urine inside before an SPA is done.
If we can't get any urine with an SPA we can either wait a little while and try again, or do a catheter.
With an SPA your baby has a needle through the skin, and this hurts about as much as a blood test. SPAs are usually very quick. Sometimes we can help numb the skin with some cream (but this takes 45 minutes to work).
Developed by the RCH Department of General Medicine and Emergency Medicine. First published 2002. Last review: July 2007..