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Urinary Retention

WHAT IS URINARY RETENTION?

Urinary retention is the inability to completely empty the bladder when urinating.

From the moment you contact Loma Linda University Health, we do everything we can to make sure your treatment for urinary retention runs smoothly. Our goal is to make your experience as convenient, comfortable and stress-free as possible.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF URINARY RETENTION?

Some of the symptoms of urinary retention include:

  • A poor or weak stream when urinating
  • An intermittent flow when urinating
  • Straining to urinate
  • Feeling like you still have urine in your bladder even after you’ve urinated
  • Needing to get up frequently at night to urinate
  • Inability to urinate
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Loss of bladder control

WHAT CAUSES URINARY RETENTION?

Urinary retention can be caused by a number of things, including:

 

  • A weak bladder
  • A  blockage in the urethra, caused by:
    • Constipation
    • Kidney stones
    • A cystocele
    • A tumor
  • Nerve problems, caused by:
    • Diabetes
    • Stroke
    • Heavy metal poisoning
    • Spinal cord injuries
    • Parkinson’s disease

Researchers know that urinary retention is not just a “normal part of aging.” People who are experiencing symptoms should seek a medical evaluation.

HOW IS URINARY RETENTION DIAGNOSED?

Urinary retention is diagnosed in several different ways, including:

  • A medical history and examination
  • An ultrasound of the bladder
  • A diagnosis of urinary retention after urinating
  • A cystoscopy
  • An MRI

HOW IS URINARY RETENTION TREATED?

For men, urinating in a sitting position may be helpful in reducing urinary retention. Additionally, there are a variety of medical interventions for treating urinary retention in both women and men.

Tamsulosin, finasteride, and dutasteride – When a mild case of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, also known as prostate gland enlargement) is causing the urinary retention, some patients may be treated with these medications. Tamsulosin is designed to relax smooth muscles in the bladder neck, and finasteride and dutasteride are prescribed to decrease prostate enlargement.

Prostatic stents or suprapubic cystostomy – In acute urinary retention, placement of a prostatic stent or suprapubic cystostomy can relieve the retention.

Catheters – Acute urinary retention may be treated by placement of a urinary catheter (small thin flexible tube) into the bladder.

Alpha-blockers – Alpha-blockers may be used to provide relief of urinary retention following de-catheterization for both men and women.

Transurethral resection – In most patients with benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), a procedure known as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) may be performed to relieve bladder obstruction.

Open Prostatectomy – This is the surgical removal of the prostate gland done under a general or spinal anesthetic.

WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS OF URINARY RETENTION?

If left untreated, urinary retention could lead to:

  • Stretching of the bladder
  • Tearing of the bladder
  • Constant dull pain
  • Incontinence
  • Nocturia (the need to make frequent nightly trips to the bathroom)
  • Urine traveling into the kidneys
  • Kidney failure
  • Sepsis
  • Acute urinary retention

Acute urinary retention is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately. If left untreated, it may lead to:

  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Pain, including chest pain
  • Shock
  • Kidney failure

WHO IS AT RISK FOR URINARY RETENTION?

Those at the greatest risk of suffering from urinary retention include:

  • Men more than women
  • Young, sexually active men
  • People over the age of 50
  • Those who suffer from shy bladder
  • Men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
  • Men due to prostate issues
  • Those who take NSAIDs or drugs with anticholinergic properties
  • Those who suffer from substance abuse
  • Those who have suffered certain muscle damage
  • Those who have suffered neurological damage
  • Those who go under general or spinal anesthesia
  • Those who are being operated on for longer than 2 hours
  • Those with Parkinson’s disease
  • Those with cancer of any part of the urinary system

NEXT STEPS

  • Stay aware. Both men and women in a wide age range are in the risk category for urinary retention. Stay aware of the symptoms of this condition and seek medical intervention immediately if you begin experiencing them.  
  • Seek medical intervention. If left untreated, urinary retention can lead to more serious complications. To request an evaluation at Loma Linda University Health for urinary retention symptoms, contact your provider or schedule the appointment through MyChart.