Urinary retention

Inability to empty the bladder or difficulty in doing so. Urinary retention may be complete (urine cannot be passed voluntarily at all) or incomplete (the bladder fails to empty completely). In males, causes include phimosis, urethral stricture, prostatitis, a stone in the bladder (see calculus, urinary tract), and enlargement or tumour of the prostate (see prostate, enlarged; prostate, cancer of). In females, causes include pressure on the urethra from uterine fibroids or from a fetus. In either sex, the cause may be a bladder tumour. Retention may also be due to defective functioning of the nerve pathways supplying the bladder as a result of general or spinal anaesthesia, drugs affecting the bladder, surgery, injury to the nerve pathways, or disease of the spinal cord. Complete retention causes discomfort and lower abdominal pain, except when nerve pathways are defective. The full bladder can be felt above the pubic bone. However, chronic or partial retention may not cause any serious symptoms. Retention can lead to kidney damage and, often, a urinary tract infection. Treatment of retention is by catheterization (see catheterization, urinary). The cause is then investigated. Obstruction can usually be treated; if nerve damage is the cause, permanent or intermittent catheterization is sometimes necessary.


Online Medical Dictionary: Your essential reference to over 5000 medical terms.