Urinary obstruction is a blockage of the flow of urine out of the body. The blockage slows or stops the flow of urine, which can put pressure on the kidneys. The pressure can make it harder for the kidneys to do their job. Any part of the urinary tract may become blocked. This includes the:
There are many possible causes of the blockage. Many of the causes depend on your age and whether you are male or female.
In adult men and women, kidney stones are a common cause of urinary obstruction. Tumors and cancers of the urinary system may also cause obstruction.
Urethral stricture in adult men can cause blockage. Urethral stricture is a narrowing of the urethra caused by scar tissue from previous infections or surgical procedures. Also, in older adult men, the prostate gland may get too big and cause a blockage. This problem is called benign prostatic hypertrophy or an enlarged prostate. The prostate surrounds the urethra. When it gets too big, it makes it harder for a man to pass urine.
Tumors and cancers in the urinary tract, the female organs, or a man’s prostate gland can cause urinary obstruction.
Some medicines can also lead to urinary obstruction. Some examples are cold medicines, allergy medicines, and some antidepressants.
The symptoms depend on where the blockage is and how much it is blocking the flow of urine. Obstruction in the kidneys or ureters causes crampy pain, sometimes severe, in your abdomen, side, or back. However, some types of blockage may not cause much pain.
You may feel a strong need to urinate but have trouble urinating. You may not be able to urinate at all, or the flow of urine may be less than usual. The flow may stop and start and you may not be able to control it. You may have dribbling after urinating.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your pain and history of urinary problems. He or she will examine you and test your urine for blood, protein, sugar, and signs of infection. You may have the following tests of your abdomen to help find where the blockage is:
The treatment for urinary obstruction depends on its cause. The goal is to get urine flowing normally again. This will relieve pain and prevent damage to the kidneys and urinary tract.
If the obstruction is between the kidney and the bladder (a kidney stone is a good example of such an obstruction), then a drainage tube called a stent may be put in the ureter to drain urine from the kidney until the obstruction is relieved with further treatment.
If the obstruction is between the bladder and the place where urine leaves your body, a catheter is usually put into the urethra to drain urine from the bladder. A catheter is a thin, hollow, flexible tube. The catheter is usually left in place for at least a couple of days to prevent the problem from happening again, It also allows the bladder to return to normal after having been stretched out from holding more than the normal amount of urine because of the blockage.
How long it takes to relieve the problem depends on the cause. For example, if the problem is caused by a medicine, then it will last until the medicine is out of your system. If it is caused by a kidney stone, then the obstruction will last until the stone is passed or removed. If the blockage is caused by a tumor, then it will last until the tumor is removed or treated to make it smaller.
Follow your healthcare provider's instructions.
Some causes of urinary obstruction cannot be prevented. You may be able to help prevent kidney stones by drinking plenty of water to keep your urine dilute.