Symptoms and Causes of Urinary Retention After Surgery

 Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Urinary Retention occurs when there is a sudden need to urinate, but an inability to do so. This condition usually happens after surgery. Urinary retention occurs when the nerve impulses between the brain and the bladder are disrupted. The brain is unable to send the signal for the bladder to empty itself. The muscles that facilitate normal function of the bladder is suppressed. And so, urine will fill the bladder until the patient suffers from pain and trauma.

Urinary retention is considered an emergency, especially if you are no longer in the hospital. Your bladder and kidneys could sustain serious damage if urine is not removed from the bladder right away.

When the bladder is filled with urine and it’s not drained, fluid will back up to the kidneys. The pressure from a filled bladder causes damage to the tubes wherein the urine is transported. In extreme cases, the bladder could rapture. As such, if you are unable to pee after surgery, you need to seek treatment immediately.

Symptoms of Urinary Retention

The common sign of urinary retention is abdominal swelling in thin people. A sharp pain and discomfort are felt from the full bladder. Other symptoms include feeling the urge to pee, but being unable to. Irregular heartbeat, elevated or low blood pressure and nausea could also point to urinary retention.

Causes of Urinary Retention After Surgery

The problem is often attributed to various factors. These factors range to effects from general anesthesia, pain medications and complications from abdominal surgery.

When the patient is given general anesthesia, different drugs are used to numb the body. And these medications could accidentally change how the body works. These effects are often temporary. Urinary retention is one of the most common side effects of general anesthesia. The cause for it remains unknown because of the different risk factors that come to play.

Urinary retention could also result from certain fluids given intravenously after surgery. In extremely rare cases, surgical errors could cause urinary retention. These cases include mistakenly severing one of the tubes that transport urine to the bladder. Surgery is needed to repair the damaged tubes. Finally, people with a history of difficult urination after surgery is also vulnerable to this condition.

Treating Urinary Retention

The usual treatment for acute urinary retention is a urinary catheter. A urinary catheter is a sterile tube inserted through the urethra into the bladder. This tube will drain the urine straight from the bladder. Although urinary retention is acute, the complications could be dangerous. In chronic cases of urinary retention, a patient is unable to pee for weeks, months or even longer.

For chronic cases of urinary retention, the patient will go through a series of tests to identify the cause of the condition. Throughout the duration of the hospitalization, a catheter is hooked on the patient. The doctor may also teach the patient to catheterize himself if needed. He’ll also learn how to sterilize the catheter to avoid urinary tract infection. Unfortunately, using a catheter for an extended period makes the bladder vulnerable to infections.

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