Kids Health Info

Suprapubic Aspirate SPA

  • 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.

    What other ways can you get urine?

    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.

    • Bag specimen. A bag is stuck to the skin inside the nappy to catch urine, however this is the least effective method.
    • "Clean-catch". A parent tries to catch some urine when the baby does a wee. 
    • Catheter. A tube is put into the bladder through the urethra (the hole where the urine comes out).   

     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.                    

    Does an SPA always work?

    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.

    Does an SPA hurt?

    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).

    Are there any risks?

    • SPAs are a very safe test and problems are rare.
    • Sometimes you may see a little blood in the urine for a day or so.
    • The risk of any damage to the bowel from the needle is extremely small.

    Care at home

    • There is no special care after the test.
    • Your baby can be bathed normally.

    Key points to remember

    • SPAs are the best way to get urine from babies and small children to look for infection.
    • They are a very safe test and problems are rare.
    • There are other ways to collect urine although they are not suitable to determine if your child has an infection or not.

    More information

    Individual instructions

     

     

    Developed by the RCH Department of General Medicine and Emergency Medicine.   First published 2002.  Last review: July 2007..


Disclaimer 
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.