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What is an Enlarged Bladder?

Nicole Madison
Updated: May 17, 2024

An enlarged bladder, also referred to as bladder hypertrophy, is a medical condition in which the bladder becomes larger than normal, stretches too much, or develops thicker walls. Some people also are born with a bladder that's larger than normal, while in other cases, the condition may develop as the result of an obstruction of some sort. Sometimes, a person may even develop the condition because of an abnormally high volume of urine output or failure to empty the bladder fully on a regular basis.

Since the bladder is larger than normal when it's enlarged, it may stick out past the point it should instead of being held in place by the surrounding body tissues. A bladder that sits outside of it's normal position in this manner may impair the normal function of other organs, such as the kidneys, even though the bladder itself may function normally. Sometimes, this causes the patient's urine flow to become blocked, making it difficult or even impossible for him to empty his bladder fully. Surgery may be required to correct this problem.

Often, a bladder becomes enlarged when something blocks the urinary tract. The cause of the obstruction may gradually affect the walls of the bladder, causing them to thicken over a period of time. They may thicken enough to make the whole organ larger than normal. In some cases, the obstruction is caused by a tumor, which could be benign or malignant; sometimes bladder stones cause this issue as well. Surgery is often used to remove the obstruction in such a case, and the bladder often returns to its normal size after the treatment.

An individual may be diagnosed with an enlarged bladder after the organ becomes stretched due to urine retention or an abnormally large volume of urine output. For example, a person may have trouble emptying his bladder fully and may constantly retain a bit of urine. Other people have medical conditions that cause their bodies to produce more urine than normal. Both of these situations can lead to the stretching of the bladder, and correcting the underlying cause of these conditions may allow the bladder to return to a more normal size. If stretching is severe, however, it may not regain its normal tone.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By anon998963 — On Sep 28, 2017

My 6 year old son was having very bad stomach pains about 2 weeks ago. We rushed to hospital and they did multiple tests. They found an enlarged bladder on CT but didn't know the cause. They scheduled an appointment with a urologist and we seen him today. Basically said he thinks its enlarged because he holds his pee and poo... but he doesn't and I told him this multiple times. Didn't run anymore tests to see if it was swelling from an infection or anything... just told us he thinks he is fine, and if he has any more pain to come back asap. Opinions? What it could be from?

By anon996020 — On Jun 25, 2016

I can easily urinate 32oz or better if I feel an uncontrolled urge in the middle of the night.

By anon991211 — On Jun 04, 2015

I have a slightly large bladder but was told that it was due to fibroids in my uterus. My mother started menopause 5 weeks after her 42nd birthday and spent 11 years and 5 months in menopause. There is a chance that my condition is a result of me starting the beginning stage of perimenopause.

By anon327793 — On Mar 30, 2013

I was wondering if a woman with an enlarged bladder could still get pregnant?

By anon312151 — On Jan 05, 2013

My 17 year old daughter is having a surgery to remove half of her bladder and correct the valve from her left kidney (reflux). Both (we were told) destroyed her kidney over time. We never knew about this problem; no one ever said anything. She never had any UTI's and kidney infections to indicate a problem. Her bladder holds 980cc of urine, so it is double the size it should be. The valve into her bladder does not close at all and she only has 24.9 percent function in a badly damaged kidney. Her right kidney is functioning at 75.4 percent.

By anon194807 — On Jul 09, 2011

I have just been diagnosed with a enlarged bladder. I was being treated for overactice bladder and was on vesicare, which caused me to have retention of urine and had to have residuals until the medication was out of my system.

I now have two options: Isc for the rest of my life or a bladder training programme. I was told that my occupation had something to do with me having an enlarged bladder and not going to the toilet enough. I am a nurse. I am desperate for some answers from others who may be in the same situation.

By katherineg — On Jun 05, 2011

I don't think anyone would intentionally enlarge their bladder. It can lead to some pretty serious consequences, such as kidney malfunction. There is probably a psychological disease out there that has to do with never urinating, but I doubt any athlete or other reasonable person would do so on purpose!

By coffeeluv — On Jun 02, 2011

@denisep - This article says that some people can develop enlarged bladders by failing to empty theirs on a regular basis... that doesn't sound so bad! I wonder if any marathon runners or other athletes who don't want to be interrupted often ever do this intentionally.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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