Bladder or urethral injury

Traumatic injury of the bladder and urethra

Basic Information

Description

Damage to the urinary bladder (the organ that stores urine from the kidneys) or the urethra (the tube through which urine travels from the bladder to the outside). Due to its well-protected location, bladder injury is rare.

Frequent signs and symptoms

  • Severe abdominal pain.
  • Shock (sweating; faintness; nausea; panting; rapid pulse; pale, cold, moist skin).
  • Painful urination or inability to urinate.
  • Bloody discharge from the urethra.

Causes

Usually a pelvic-bone fracture that punctures the bladder or urethra.

Risk increases with

  • Excess alcohol consumption.
  • Accident-proneness.
  • Hazardous occupations.
  • Hazardous driving conditions.
  • Sexually abused children.

Preventive measures

  • Protect yourself from injury whenever possible.
  • Buckle your automobile seat belt to minimize internal injury in case of accident.
  • Don't drink and drive.

Expected outcomes

A punctured bladder or urethra requires emergency hospital treatment. Most cases heal with bed rest, time, supportive treatment or surgery.

Possible complications

  • Internal bleeding.
  • Urine leakage into the abdomen, causing abdominal inflammation or infection.
  • Recurrent infections from scars in the urethra that narrow the urinary passage.

Treatment

General measures

  • Hospitalization; emergency care.
  • X-rays of the urinary tract.
  • Surgery to repair a punctured bladder (usually). A damaged urethra may heal without surgery.

Medications

  • Antibiotics to prevent infection.
  • Pain medicine as required.
  • Anticholinergics for spasms.

Activity

Stay as active as your strength allows. Allow 1 month for recovery. Don't return to work or resume sexual relations until healing is complete.

Diet

  • No special diet.
  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluid daily.
  • Don't drink alcohol.

Notify your physician if

  • You have any symptoms of bladder or urethra injury.
  • During or after treatment, you develop fever and chills.
  • New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.

Last updated 14 June 2011


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