Bladder outlet obstruction
Toggle: English / Spanish
Bladder outlet obstruction (BOO) is a blockage at the base of the bladder that reduces or prevents the flow of urine into the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body.
BOO; Lower urinary tract obstruction; Prostatism
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Bladder outlet obstruction (BOO) can have many different causes, including:
Less common causes include:
- Cystocele (when the bladder falls into the vagina)
- Foreign objects
- Posterior urethral valves (birth defect in males)
- Urethral spasms
- Urethral diverticula
This condition is most common in aging men. It is often caused by BPH. Bladder stones and bladder cancer are also more commonly seen in men than women. As a man ages, his chance of developing these diseases increases dramatically.
The symptoms of bladder outlet obstruction may vary, but can include:
- Abdominal pain
- Continuous feeling of a full bladder
- Frequent urination
- Inability to urinate (acute urinary retention)
- Pain during urination (dysuria)
- Problems starting urination (urinary hesitancy)
- Slow urine flow
- Urinary tract infection
- Urine stream starts and stops (urinary intermittency)
- Waking up at night to urinate (nocturia)
Signs and tests
If bladder outlet obstruction is suspected, your health care provider will take a thorough history of your problems. During a physical exam, your provider may find one or more of the following possible causes:
- Abdominal growth
- Cystocele (women)
- Enlarged bladder
- Enlarged prostate (men)
Tests may include:
Treatment of bladder outlet obstruction depends on the cause of the problem. For most cases, a tube called a catheter, inserted through the urethra into the bladder, will relieve the blockage.
Sometimes a suprapubic catheter (a tube placed through the belly area into the bladder) is needed to drain the bladder.
Long-term treatment of bladder outlet obstruction usually involves surgery. However, medical treatment options are available for many of the diseases that cause this problem. Discuss treatment options with your health care provider.
If diagnosed early, most causes of bladder outlet obstruction can be successfully treated. However, if the diagnosis is delayed, permanent damage to the bladder or kidneys can result.
Calling your health care provider
If you have symptoms of bladder outlet obstruction, call your provider. Early diagnosis is important and can often lead to a simple and effective cure.
Zeidel ML. Obstructive uropathy. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 125.
McNicholas TA, Kirby RS, Lepor H. Evaluation and nonsurgical management of benign prostatic hyperplasia. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 92.
Andersson K, Wein AJ. Pharmacologic management of lower urinary tract storage and emptying failure. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 68.
Cespedes RD, Gerboc JL. Other therapies for storage and emptying failure. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 75.
- Last reviewed on 6/18/2012
- Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington; and Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.