Urinary Retention

Urinary retention is the inability to empty the bladder of urine. In some cases, a patient may be able to urinate but have trouble starting the stream or emptying the bladder completely. They may also feel an urgent need to urinate but unable to when actually getting to the toilet. Or, patients may feel they still have to go after they are finished urinating. Although chronic urinary retention is not life threatening, it can lead to damage of the kidneys.

Causes of Urinary Retention

At the Section of Urogynecology at Loma Linda University Medical Center, our physicians perform a full diagnosis to determine the cause of each patient's urinary retention and provide the corresponding treatment.

Urinary retention can be caused by:

  • Advanced pelvic organ prolapse
  • Nerve problems interfering with signals between the brain, spinal cord, bladder and urethra
  • Obstruction in the urinary tract
  • Weak bladder muscle
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Pelvic floor prolapse

Treatment Options

Treatment of urinary retention depends on the root cause. In some cases, discontinuation of certain medications may improve urinary function. Intermittent self catheterization may also help. If there is a clear cause for the urinary retention such as pelvic organ prolapse, then surgery to fix the prolapse will treat the retention; however, in cases where there is abnormal communication between nervous system and bladder / urethra, sacral neuromodulation may be the best approach.