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What Is an Enlarged Bladder?

Bladder stones could potentially cause blockage of the urinary tract, leading to an enlarged bladder.
The human urinary tract, including the bladder in pink at the bottom.
If an enlarged bladder is caused by an obstruction of the urinary tract, a catheter is needed to drain urine.
A cutaway of a female body showing the bladder in dark pink.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 04 August 2014
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An enlarged bladder, also referred to as bladder hypertrophy, is a medical condition in which the bladder becomes larger than normal, stretches too much, or develops thicker walls. Some people also are born with a bladder that's larger than normal, while in other cases, the condition may develop as the result of an obstruction of some sort. Sometimes, a person may even develop the condition because of an abnormally high volume of urine output or failure to empty the bladder fully on a regular basis.

Since the bladder is larger than normal when it's enlarged, it may stick out past the point it should instead of being held in place by the surrounding body tissues. A bladder that sits outside of it's normal position in this manner may impair the normal function of other organs, such as the kidneys, even though the bladder itself may function normally. Sometimes, this causes the patient's urine flow to become blocked, making it difficult or even impossible for him to empty his bladder fully. Surgery may be required to correct this problem.

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Often, a bladder becomes enlarged when something blocks the urinary tract. The cause of the obstruction may gradually affect the walls of the bladder, causing them to thicken over a period of time. They may thicken enough to make the whole organ larger than normal. In some cases, the obstruction is caused by a tumor, which could be benign or malignant; sometimes bladder stones cause this issue as well. Surgery is often used to remove the obstruction in such a case, and the bladder often returns to its normal size after the treatment.

An individual may be diagnosed with an enlarged bladder after the organ becomes stretched due to urine retention or an abnormally large volume of urine output. For example, a person may have trouble emptying his bladder fully and may constantly retain a bit of urine. Other people have medical conditions that cause their bodies to produce more urine than normal. Both of these situations can lead to the stretching of the bladder, and correcting the underlying cause of these conditions may allow the bladder to return to a more normal size. If stretching is severe, however, it may not regain its normal tone.

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anon327793
Post 5

I was wondering if a woman with an enlarged bladder could still get pregnant?

anon312151
Post 4

My 17 year old daughter is having a surgery to remove half of her bladder and correct the valve from her left kidney (reflux). Both (we were told) destroyed her kidney over time. We never knew about this problem; no one ever said anything. She never had any UTI's and kidney infections to indicate a problem. Her bladder holds 980cc of urine, so it is double the size it should be. The valve into her bladder does not close at all and she only has 24.9 percent function in a badly damaged kidney. Her right kidney is functioning at 75.4 percent.

anon194807
Post 3

I have just been diagnosed with a enlarged bladder. I was being treated for overactice bladder and was on vesicare, which caused me to have retention of urine and had to have residuals until the medication was out of my system.

I now have two options: Isc for the rest of my life or a bladder training programme. I was told that my occupation had something to do with me having an enlarged bladder and not going to the toilet enough. I am a nurse. I am desperate for some answers from others who may be in the same situation.

katherineg
Post 2

I don't think anyone would intentionally enlarge their bladder. It can lead to some pretty serious consequences, such as kidney malfunction. There is probably a psychological disease out there that has to do with never urinating, but I doubt any athlete or other reasonable person would do so on purpose!

coffeeluv
Post 1

@denisep - This article says that some people can develop enlarged bladders by failing to empty theirs on a regular basis... that doesn't sound so bad! I wonder if any marathon runners or other athletes who don't want to be interrupted often ever do this intentionally.

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