Wait and see
If there is no physical pain from the bladder being full, I usually encourage patients to
– get up and walk around the help metabolism of the anesthesia medications
– Try urination while sitting in a warm bath tub. Sometimes that is enough to stimulate bladder emptying.
– Physical pressure can also help to empty the bladder in some cases.
The caveat with this approach is that it is only to be used in the early post operative period. The bladder in some patients will continue to stretch and expand without causing any pain and in the extreme could lead to other serious complications. If there has been no urination after surgery for 4 hours or so its time to go to the ER.
Urinary Catheter placement
If there is still inability to urinate after a few hours or if there is pain, a urinary catheter needs to placed. Commonly known as a Foley catheter it is best inserted by a nurse or doctor in the emergency room or office. A rubber catheter with attached bag is placed into the urethra and urine is allowed to drain for a couple of days till the bladder has regained its strength. An antibiotic is usually necessary during the time the catheter is in place to prevent infection.
Although a simple condition to take care of, urinary retention – being unable to pee after surgery is painful and anxiety causing. Not the typical complication one thinks of after surgery but one that both surgeon and patient should be prepared to treat.