Bladder Wall Thickening

The bladder is a part of the urinary system. It is a small sac which collects urine released by the kidneys. Bladder wall thickening may occur due a variety of different reasons. Treatment of thickened bladder wall is dependent on the underlying cause.


Some of the common signs and symptoms of bladder wall thickening are as follows:

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  • Fever
  • Patients have desire to frequently pass urine. When the bladder wall thickens it loses its elasticity and becomes stiff. Interstitial cystitis, which causes bladder wall thickening, patients tend to frequently urinate during day as well as night. In severe instances, patients may pass urine nearly 50 times a day.
  • Difficulties in passing urine
  • Increased urgency to urinate. The desire to pass urine can be intense and difficult to control
  • The urine may elicit streaks of blood or it may be cloudy
  • Patients may experience pain when passing urine. Increased pressure in and around the bladder and pelvic region can result in mild to severe discomfort and/or pain. The pain typically subsides after urinating. Male patients experience pain in the area of scrotum and penis.
  • People with interstitial cystitis may suffer from pain during sex and other sexual dysfunctions.
  • Women are more prone to bladder wall thickening, but it can affect males as well as children
  • The urine has a foul odor

Causes of bladder wall thickening

Bladder wall thickening may occur due to the following causes:

  • Development of non-malignant benign tumors or tissue growths
  • Inflammation triggered by a UTI or urinary tract infection. The infected tissues causes buildup of pus, fluids, and other inflammatory waste and debris in the bladder which causes the bladder to swell, thicken, and appear dense.
  • Bladder cancer is a life-threatening cause of thickened bladder wall. Cancers are marked by rapid growth of malignant tissue which can result in thickening.
  • Interstitial cystitis is a very painful illness which causes bladder wall to be inflamed and irritated. Prolonged irritation can result in scarring and bladder wall thickening. The increased stiffness of the organ prevents it from holding normal levels of urine. Around 5 to 10 percent of patients also tend to develop ulcers within the bladder.
    • The exact cause of interstitial cystitis is not known. It is however known that the disease is not an infection. Some studies show that antiproliferative factor protein produced by body of some patients may increase sensitivity of bladder to urine. There are several experts who think that it may be caused by a mixed variety of factors.
    • Some risk factors which can increase the vulnerability to developing interstitial cystitis induced bladder wall thickening include bladder damage caused by surgery or other kinds of trauma; trauma of spinal cord, nerve damage, and/or pelvic nerves inflammation; bladder distention marked by loss of ability to empty bladder for prolonged periods; presence of other underlying diseases like fibromyalgia or IBS/irritable bowel syndrome, especially in women; and sexual abuse during childhood in some cases.

Treatment of bladder wall thickening

Treatment of bladder wall thickening is dependent on the underlying cause. A few common treatment options are listed below:

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  • UTIs are treated with antibiotics, pain killers, and other medications; dietary changes like intake of an acidic diet for acidifying urine, avoiding caffeine and other foods which cause bladder irritation, and increased intake of water and fluids; and lifestyle changes like proper hygiene, etc.
  • Cancer is treated with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery
  • Non-malignant tumors can be dissolved with prescription drugs. Doctors can also remove it via surgery.

Interstitial cystitis has no known cure. Treatment of bladder wall thickening in this case is focused on alleviating symptoms and preventing any health complications.

  • Doctor may suggest medicines like Elmiron which protects the bladder wall from irritation by urine; Elavil antidepressant for easing bladder spasms and pain; and antihistamines and pain killers.
  • Physical therapy can aid reducing tenderness of the pelvic muscles
  • Doctor may also suggest different procedures like bladder distention, TENS/transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, and/or bladder instillation.
    • Bladder distention involves filling bladder to the brim with fluids or gas; the procedure is performed under general anesthesia.
    • TENS involves gentle electrical stimulation of the public or lower back area. These electrical pulses tend to better blood circulation and strengthen the muscles of the bladder wall. It may also assist in blocking pain.
    • Also known as bladder wash, in bladder instillation the medicine Rimso-50 is instilled into bladder with the help of a catheter. This process eases pain and decreases inflammation in 3 to 4 weeks. This treatment is given weekly for 6 to 8 weeks.
  • In severe cases, laser surgery may be carried out to remove ulcers present inside bladder. Other kinds of surgery may be done to decrease bladder wall thickening and/or to enlarge bladder size. Uncommonly, doctors may surgically remove the bladder and divert urine flow to an external opening known as a urostomy.


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