Post-operative urinary retention

Martin Steggall, Colm L. Treacy, Mark Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Urinary retention is a common complication of surgery and anaesthesia. The risk of post-operative urinary retention is increased following certain surgical procedures and anaesthetic modalities, and with patients' advancing age. Patients at increased risk of post-operative urinary retention should be identified before surgery or the condition should be identified and treated in a timely manner following surgery. If conservative measures do not help the patient to pass urine, the bladder will need to be drained using either an intermittent catheter or an indwelling urethral catheter, which can result in catheter-associated urinary tract infections. This article provides an overview of normal bladder function, risk factors for developing post-operative urinary retention, and treatment options. Guidance drawn from the literature aims to assist nurses in identifying at-risk patients and inform patient care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-48
Number of pages6
JournalNursing Standard
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2013


  • bladder
  • bladder catheterization
  • human
  • nursing
  • nursing assessment
  • pathophysiology
  • postoperative complication
  • review
  • risk factor
  • urine retention


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