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Date of last update: 8/13/2017.

Forum Name: Urology Topics

Question: How much Urine can the Female Bladder Hold if paralyzed?

 Peronk - Sun Sep 21, 2008 8:09 pm

My wife gave birth last week at a hospital in NYC. She was givin a low dose epidural (walking epidural) that allowed her to walk about and still have some sensation. She was able to urinate a bit throughout the labor (very slow trickle) and thought that it was sufficient to empty her bladder. She had an IV as well, went though about two bags before her delivery 12 hours later, and also was taking in some fluids orally. However by the time she was ready to push, the OB noticed that her bladder was very full (protruding a lot- a big bump on her stomach). She immediately gave her a catader, and was astonised by the volume that came out: 1.5 liters. She was extremely angry with the nurse staff for overlooking this- and made sure to report it.

My question: could she have sustained any damage to her bladder? She appears to have regained most of the mucle tone now (5 days later), but I'm concerned that the 1.5 liters could have damaged the muscle lining. She's only 100 lbs normally, and before her pregnancy could never really hold much urine (thought she had a small bladder). 1.5 liters is a tremendous amount I think, and would like to know if there could be any potential compliations. Becuase of the epidural, she lost most of her sensation, and if the spincter muscle (or whatever holds the bladder shut) was frozen shut, could the normal over-pressure dumping that typically occurs been over-ridden?

Thanks so much!
 Debbie Miller, RN - Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:14 pm

User avatar Hello,

Typical bladder capacity for moderate filling would be 500 to 700 ml. But, greater than a liter is still common at times. Sometimes your body just has to accommodate more and it does a pretty good job. I don't recommend doing this voluntarily, however. Unfortunately the epidural would have made it difficult for her to have the full sensation so she needed to depend on the staff to alert her to that problem.

I would not expect any long-term damage from this. Yes, it was irresponsible and not good nursing care. It can also make it harder for the baby's descent. This is why the doctor was unhappy about it. Bodies are quite resilient and the capacity to stretch and then resume the original size and shape is quite remarkable. Epidurals can also cause some delay in function but most likely she will be good as new soon if not already.

Best wishes.

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