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Eur J Surg. 1993 Mar;159(3):145-7.

Postoperative retention of urine in general surgical patients.

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  • 1Department of General Surgery, Medical School of The Cumhuriyet University, Sivas, Turkey.



To find out the incidence of retention of urine after various general surgical operations, and to assess the effects of applying a bag filled with warm water (40-45 degrees C), and encouraging early mobilisation onreducing the necessity for catheterisation.


Open study.


Cumhuriyet University Hospital, Sivas, Turkey.


577 consecutive patients who had no history of urinary problems and had not already been catheterised, and who underwent general surgical operations between April 1989 and December 1991.


Ability to pass urine spontaneously.


64 of 272 men (24%) and 47 of 305 women (15%) developed retention of urine (p = 0.02), and 15 and 11, respectively, required catheterisation. Patients were most likely to develop retention after repair of incisional hernia (13/32, 38%), midline laparotomy (19/82, 23%), and subcostal incisions (30/142, 21%), but there were no significant differences among these. Significantly more patients whose operations had lasted 60 minutes or more, and who had opiate analgesia, required catheterisation (5/232 compared with 21/345, p = 0.04, and 11/120 compared with 15 out of 457, p = 0.01, respectively). 85 of the 111 patients who went into retention (77%) were able to pass urine spontaneously after application of a bag containing warm water to the suprapubic region, and walking about. The mean period of catheterisation was 12 hours (range 4-76), and all patients but one passed urine spontaneously when the catheter was removed. Only two of the 26 patients who were catheterised developed microbiologically confirmed urinary tract infections.


Retention of urine is a common complication after general surgical operations, but the necessity for catheterisation can be kept to a minimum by simple and inexpensive measures.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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