Urinary Retention Quiz

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Learn more about Urinary retention

Content updated on Nov 2, 2022

What is urinary retention?

Urinary retention is a condition where the bladder doesn’t empty all the way or at all during urination. Urinary retention can be acute—a sudden inability to urinate, or chronic—a gradual inability to completely empty the bladder of urine.

Symptoms of urinary retention

  • Decrease in urine volume

  • Unable to pass urine for 12 hours or more

Questions your doctor may ask to check for urinary retention

Your doctor may ask these questions to diagnose urinary retention

  • Are you passing less urine?

  • Has it been more than 12 hours since you last passed urine?

Treatment for urinary retention

Treatment for urinary retention can depend on whether there is acute form. For the acute form, a catheter is put into the urethra to drain the bladder. Treatment of the chronic form will depend on the cause.

View the symptoms of Urinary retention

  • Low urine output


  • Billet M, Windsor TA. Urinary Retention. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2019 Nov;37(4):649-660. doi: 10.1016/j.emc.2019.07.005. Epub 2019 Aug 16. PMID: 31563200.


  • Selius BA, Subedi R. Urinary retention in adults: diagnosis and initial management. Am Fam Physician. 2008 Mar 1;77(5):643-50. PMID: 18350762.


Reviewed By:

Nao Saito

Nao Saito, MD (Urology)

From our team of 50+ doctors

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Kameda Medical Center, Japan

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