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How can the bladder be injured? 

The bladder is the organ that holds urine.  It sits deep inside the abdomen. The bladder is rarely injured because it is so well protected. Injuries can be caused by either a blunt trauma (a hard blow to the body) or penetrating trauma (like a stab or gunshot wound). They can also be caused by pelvic fractures.

Damage to the bladder can cause urine to leak which can lead to infection.  The extent of the injury depends on how full the bladder was when injured.  The more full the bladder, the greater the risk for a more serious injury.



  • Trouble urinating

  • Pain while urinating

  • Blood in the urine

  • Lower belly pain

Tests You May Need

  • Physical exam

  • Urinalysis

  • X-rays

  • Retrograde urethrogram

  • Retrograde cystogram

  • CT scan

  • Ultrasound


Treatment depends on where the injury is. If it is in the bladder, surgery is likely. A tube is placed through the urethra, which is the body part that drains urine. In men, the urethra goes through the penis. The tube used is called a “Foley” catheter.  Once in place, it drains urine to a bag which is outside your body, allowing the bladder to remain empty. The Foley is used until doctors decide that healing has taken place, which is often at least 2 weeks. 

If the injury is to the urethra itself, then the Foley may not be helpful. At times, the doctor may place a special tube directly into the abdominal wall (called a supra-pubic catheter). This type of tube will usually stay in place for 3-6 months until the urethra is repaired surgically or has healed on its own.

If you leave the hospital before the Foley catheter has been removed, a nurse will teach you how to care for your catheter at home. You will also learn how to change to a smaller bag (a leg bag) during the day at home. 

Who to Call with Problems 

Urology Clinic at (608) 263-4757

Trauma Clinic at (608) 263-7502 

After hours, nights, weekends, and holidays, call the UW Hospital Paging Operator at 608-262-0486. Ask for the resident on call for your clinic. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back. 

If you live out of the area, please call 1-800-323-8942 and ask for your clinic.