Symptoms of Bladder Outlet Obstruction

Older male patient talking with doctor over a tablet
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Your bladder outlet is at the base of the bladder and it leads into the urethra. The urethra serves as a conduit through which urine leaves your body. If you have an obstruction at the base of the bladder, you have what is known as bladder outlet obstruction (sometimes called BOO).

Though BOO can occur in men or women, it occurs most commonly in older men. The most common conditions that can cause BOO include prostate problems, tumors of the bladder or pelvis, or urethral narrowing or scarring.

Early Symptoms of Bladder Outlet Obstruction

Early signs of a bladder outlet obstruction are:

  • A reluctance to urinate, also known as a sensation of hesitancy.
  • As the obstruction becomes more severe, you may have to strain to push urine past the blockage.
  • You will have increasing difficulty in maintaining a forceful urinary flow.
  • You may have a stop-and-go flow.

Later Symptoms

  • Difficulty urinating is progressive. One especially bothersome symptom is “terminal dribbling,” characterized by a slow dribbling of your urine that seems to go on endlessly.
  • A strong urge to urinate is common, but with a bladder outlet obstruction, you are usually able to gain enough control to prevent much leakage of urine.
  • You may feel excruciating pain along with a strong urge to urinate, but you will only be able to urinate tiny amounts. This is a sign that you have a severe inability to urinate, also known as acute urinary retention.
  • Another common symptom is the feeling that urine has remained in your bladder because you could not release it. It is a nagging sensation of fullness.

When to See Your Doctor

If you have any of these symptoms, consult with a urologist right away. Bladder outlet obstruction can wreak havoc on the urinary system. You should not take your symptoms lightly.

Early diagnosis will prevent a cascade of problems that can affect your entire urinary system. Possible complications include:

  • Stones in the kidney, bladder, and ureter
  • Kidney failure
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Urinary retention
  • Urinary incontinence
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Article Sources

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  • Bladder Outlet Obstruction. ADAM Health Topics A to Z.

  • Ho K-LV, Segura JW. Lower Urinary Tract Calculi. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 84.

  • McAninch JW. Symptoms of Disorders of the Urinary Tract. Tanagho EA, McAninch JW. Smith’s General Urology. 17th ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2008.