My doctor says I might have bladder outlet obstruction. What does that mean?
Answer From Patricio C. Gargollo, M.D.
Bladder outlet obstruction in men is a blockage that slows or stops urine flow out of the bladder. Bladder outlet obstruction can cause urine to back up in your system, leading to difficulty urinating and other uncomfortable urinary symptoms.
Possible causes of bladder outlet obstruction might include:
- Enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) — this is the most common cause of bladder outlet obstruction in men
- Scarring of the urinary channel (urethra) or bladder neck, as a result of injury or surgery
- Use of certain medications, including antihistamines, decongestants or drugs to treat overactive bladder
- Prostate cancer
Prompt diagnosis and treatment of bladder outlet obstruction is important to prevent serious problems caused by urine backing up into your system.
If you can't pass urine, emergency treatment includes insertion of a tube (catheter) through the tip of your penis and into your bladder. This tube helps urine drain from your bladder.
If your condition doesn't require urgent care, your doctor might order tests to determine the underlying cause of your bladder outlet obstruction. Tests include imaging the bladder with sound waves (ultrasound) and viewing the bladder with a camera (cystoscopy).
Treatment might include medications or surgery.
Patricio C. Gargollo, M.D.
May 26, 2021
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- Obstructive uropathy. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/obstructive-uropathy/obstructive-uropathy. Accessed March 17, 2021.
- AskMayoExpert. Urinary retention. Mayo Clinic; 2020.
- Tintinalli JE, et al., eds. Acute urinary retention. In: Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 9th ed. McGraw Hill; 2020. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed March 17, 2021.
- Ferri FF. Acute urinary retention (AUR). Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2021. Elsevier; 2021. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 17, 2021.