What Is Bladder Trauma?

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: 15 December 2014
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Bladder trauma is a serious injury to the bladder. A person may suffer trauma to the bladder because of an accident, after a physical attack, during childbirth, or even during some types of surgery. It is typically important to seek immediate medical attention for bladder trauma, as it can be fatal in some cases. The treatment methods used and the ease of recovery typically depend on the cause and extent of the trauma.

Motor vehicle accidents are a common cause of bladder trauma. The injury may be caused by the seat belt or by impact with other parts of the car. An individual, however, may also suffer this type of injury after falling from a significant height or suffering a kick or blow to the pelvic area. A person may also suffer trauma because of a stabbing or gun shot wound to the pelvic region. In some cases, a woman may suffer this type of injury because of pressure from the infant’s head during a very long and difficult labor, or surgical tools may injure the bladder during pelvic surgery.

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The bladder is more likely to suffer a traumatic injury when it is full rather than empty or nearly so. For example, if a person is in a car accident while wearing a seat belt, the seat belt may apply force to the pelvic area. If an individual has a full bladder at the time, he is more likely to sustain a bladder injury than he would be if he emptied his bladder before getting into the car. Besides a full bladder, age may influence vulnerability to bladder trauma. Children are more likely to suffer bladder injury from a blunt force because their pelvic bones haven’t finished developing and provide less protection for the bladder.

The symptoms of bladder trauma include pain, especially below the navel, and blood in the urine. In some cases, a large hole develops in the bladder, and a person’s urine flows into his abdomen. When this happens, he cannot urinate, which is another symptom. Additionally, symptoms may include a lighter-than-normal urine flow, pain when passing urine, and pain in the back.

The treatment for bladder trauma typically depends on the type of injury and its extent. In many cases, these injuries require surgical treatment. Sometimes, however, doctors put a catheter in place to drain the urine or allow clots to pass while the bladder heals on its own.

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anon331211
Post 9

My husband has always been healthy. We were hit head on while stopped by a car doing about 60 mph. About three weeks after the accident, he started having problems urinating. Within a month, it was found that he had very aggressive bladder cancer.

He has been through chemo, had his bladder removed, and is going through chemo and radiation now.

I know the accident didn't "cause" the cancer. However, apparently, the tumor was asymptomatic before the accident. If an accident can severely damage an organ, why is the thought of the damage to the tumor causing it to wreak havoc on the bladder so far fetched? How can I find a doctor who will agree with me?

anon318530
Post 8

@simrin: I'm raising my hand. Almost a year ago, during my hysterectomy, the surgeon put a suture through my bladder. I was aware of the risk of this surgery, as I had to sign paperwork stating so. No surgery is without risk.

I also experience what must be bladder spasms. I have come to my own conclusion that once one has severely injured their bladder that, even after healing, the bladder will forever be "grumpy".

orangey03
Post 7

My neighbor's kid fell out of her treehouse and broke her pelvic bones. This damaged her bladder, too, and it's a miracle she survived the fall.

In the hospital, she was screaming in pain. The doctor sedated her with some intense pain medication so he could examine the damage.

He could see from the x-ray that her pelvis was broken. He suspected bladder damage, as well, so he inserted a catheter into her bladder. He injected dye into the catheter, and he could see on the x-ray that it was leaking out of her bladder.

She had to have major surgery, and she missed an entire year of school. That was the one good thing about the whole mess to her.

cloudel
Post 6

@seag47 – Your sister's doctor most likely based his decision on where the damage to her bladder occurred. My cousin's bladder ruptured in a car accident, and her doctor informed the family about why she needed surgery to fix it.

Her bladder had a tear in it at the top. This meant that her urine was leaking into her abdomen. Had she torn it at the bottom instead, then it could have been fixed with a catheter.

I am guessing that your sister's damage was to the top of her bladder, as well. I really don't think the doctor would have gone into surgery with her if it wasn't totally necessary, because that requires a lot of time and effort on his part.

seag47
Post 5

How does a doctor determine whether to use a catheter or do surgery? My sister had to have surgery when she ruptured her bladder in a fall, and I'm just wondering if she could have avoided it by getting a catheter instead.

Sometimes, I wonder if doctors just do the most expensive treatment possible so they will get more money. I really thought her bladder might have healed by itself if he had just left it alone.

She is fine now, so I'm not complaining too much. I just wonder what the determining factor in choosing a treatment option is.

kylee07drg
Post 4

My cousin's bladder was injured during a tornado. He had been racing home from work after he heard the warning siren, and he had just gotten inside his house when it hit.

To make matters worse, he really had to pee. He had gotten so busy at work that he hadn't made a bathroom trip in hours, but once he found out about the tornado nearby, he wasn't about to stay around to go.

The tornado tore off part of his house, and it took him with it. He got slammed into a tree, injuring his bladder.

The doctor examined him and said it was badly bruised. However, this was the type of injury that would heal with time. He got a catheter and some pain pills, and in a month, he was much better.

fify
Post 3

@alisha-- Catheters can sometimes make bladder injury worse or cause a new injury if it's not the right size or is placed rather harshly.

I had to get an emergency catheter once and that's what happened to me. The tube was just too large and there was difficulty inserting it for that reason. The tissue around the insertion was damaged because of it. When they realized this, it was replaced with a smaller catheter which worked fine.

I think that as long as it's done properly, catheters do help quicken the healing time of bladder injury. If your doctor feels that this would be better for you, I don't see why you shouldn't try it.

discographer
Post 2

I have bladder trauma due to a car accident. I did not realize how bad it was until a month later when I got hospitalized due to kidney stones. I'm in a lot of pain and the doctor is planning to put in a catheter for some time to speed up recovery.

I don't know what to think about this because I've heard that catheters could also be irritating to the bladder. Plus, I think it's going to be very upsetting for me to walk around with a tube. I do want my bladder to heal more quickly so that I can be pain-free again though.

Do you think it's worth getting a catheter for this treatment?

SteamLouis
Post 1

My sister had a hysterectomy last year and her bladder was ripped during surgery. She had a follow up surgery and the rip was fixed but she has a constant feeling of having to go and discomfort since the bladder trauma. She's seen the doctor who performed surgery many times but was told that this is relatively common and hopefully the symptoms will go away in time.

From reading forums about hysterectomy online, we also realize that bladder trauma is common during this surgery, but should it be? My sister wasn't even warned about this before she had the surgery and it doesn't seem like the discomfort is going to go away. There are a lot of women who are in the same situation with much worse symptoms.

Has anyone else experienced bladder trauma due to a hysterectomy? What were you told by your doctor about it?

We're thinking about complaining to the Health Board about this hospital and doctor but we're not sure if it will go anywhere.

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