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A 39-year-old female asked:

What do u call it when someone doesn't release all their urine? is it kidney or bladder problem my daughter had 2 uti infections they say the cause her urine isnt all releasing.

1 doctor answer5 doctors weighed in
Dr. Todd Mcniff
Internal Medicine 20 years experience
There : There are many causes of not being able to release urine. This is often called urinary retention. It can be caused by certain drugs, damage to the bladder from surgery or pregnancy, problems with the nerves around the bladder or the nerves in the spinal cord that communicate with the nerves in the bladder, but in children with this problem it is usually caused by a mistake in the structure of the bladder that the child was born with, often referred to as a congenital anomaly of the structure of the bladder. Retaining urine is not related to the kidneys, except in rare instances when a kidney stone or tumor is so big as to cause urine to build up in the kidney, but that is something that is pretty easy to distinguish from the infinitely more common problem of urine being retained in the bladder. To understand what happens in children with this issue, we need to talk about the anatomy of the urinary system - a picture would be great here - but here we go. We each have two kidneys that filter our blood and produce urine. Each kidney has a tube, called a ureter, that collects this urine and deposits it into the bladder. The bladder is an softball size bag that has the two ureters attached to the top of it, almost like purse strings, and atop each of these tubes is a kidney. The ureters typically insert into the wall of the bladder so that when the bladder gets full of urine and stretches out, the tubes close up so urine can't flow backwards. In kids with recurrent urinary tract infections, the ureters often will insert into the bladder in a way that lacks this safety feature, so the urine can travel back up through the ureter and back into the kidney. This pool of stagnant urine is prone to recurrent infections. Sometimes as the child grows, this becomes less of an issue. Sometimes, a fairly simple surgical procedure is needed. There are other more serious, but much less common, problems that can cause urinary retention and recurrent urinary tract infections in children, like spinal cord injury or tumors, so it's very important to be sure to insist that whoever told you about you daughter's condition do so fully, in a way you understand, and be able to answer all of your questions.

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Last updated Oct 3, 2016

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