Urinary retention


It's not just an inconvenient condition, but a potentially distressing issue that predominantly affects men. This condition can be bifurcated into two categories - chronic and acute retention, each with its own unique characteristics and implications. Underlying causes of urinary retention are diverse and multifactorial, ranging from benign prostatic enlargement and urethral strictures, which are common in men, to pelvic organ prolapse seen in women. Moreover, neurological diseases can also play a significant role, making this condition a complex interplay of various health issues. Addressing urinary retention demands more than mere symptomatic relief. It requires a careful evaluation and a thorough understanding of the patient's medical history, symptoms and lifestyle. Our goal is not just to identify the condition, but to pinpoint its root cause.


Once a precise diagnosis is obtained, we can tailor a treatment plan that directly addresses the underlying issue, offering the patient the best chance at regaining control and normalcy in their life. In the face of urinary retention, we're not just treating a symptom - we're striving to uncover the complexities that led to its onset, and devising a targeted, personalised treatment strategy.


What exactly is urinary retention?

Urinary retention is a condition in which the patient cannot empty all the urine from the bladder. Urinary retention can be acute,which is a sudden inability to urinate, or chronic,which is a gradual inability to completely empty the bladder of urine.

Which are the causes of urinary retention in men?

Many different conditions can end up in acute or chronic retention in men like:

    • benign prostatic enlargement
    • prostate malignancy
    • urethral stricture
    • gross haematuria
    • prostatitis or prostatic abscess

Non Urological

    • recent surgery (anaesthetic/mobility related)
    • constipation
    • drugs, like antidepressants, nasal decongestants, anaesthetics
    • neurological diseases like stroke, diabetic or alcoholic neuropathy, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis etc.

Which are the causes of urinary retention in women?

Urinary retention is a much rarer condition in women and the most common causes are:

  • pelvic prolapse
  • post surgery(anaesthetic/mobility related)
  • pelvic masses
  • constipation
  • neurological diseases like stroke,diabetic or alcoholic neuropathy, spinal cord injury,multiple sclerosis etc.
  • drugs like antidepressants, nasal decongestants, anaesthetic

Which are the symptoms of urinary retention?

Acute urinary retention is in most cases easy to diagnose based on the combination of inability to pass urine and pain in the suprapubic area.Sometimes though patients do not have that typical presentation and they present with a vague discomfort in the suprapubic area along with symptoms of frequency,urgency, and pain when passing urine ,occasionally radiating to the tip of the penis.

On the other hand ,chronic retention does not give any symptoms apart from lower abdominal discomfort in a few cases.Therefore it is a condition diagnosed incidentally during investigations for other symptoms like haematuria, chronic abdominal discomfort,recurrent urinary tract infections,deteriorating kidney function etc.

What is the treatment for urinary retention?

Treatment for urinary retention depends on the type, either acute or chronic, and its cause. In cases of urinary retention the first measure is to drain the bladder by either a urethral catheter or, in cases where this is not possible, by placement of a suprapubic catheter.

After relieving retention more detailed investigations can be done to clarify the cause and make the appropriate treatment plan.

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