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Rady Children's Specialists

Bladder Exstrophy

What is bladder exstrophy?

Bladder exstrophy is a rare condition in which a baby is born with the bladder protruding out of the abdominal wall.

What are signs and symptoms of bladder exstrophy?

Bladder exstrophy is identified immediately after birth as the inside of the bladder is opened up on the lower part of the abdomen. It is usually associated with other problems such as an abdominal wall defect, separation of the pelvic bones, abnormal genitalia, vesicoureteral reflux (reflux of urine back up to the kidneys) and inguinal hernias.

How common is bladder exstrophy?

Bladder exstrophy is very rare and occurs in about 1 in every 30,000 babies.

How is bladder exstrophy diagnosed and what tests are done?

The diagnosis is made after birth by the appearance of the bladder sitting on the lower abdomen and continuously draining urine out. The penis may appear short and testis may not be located in the scrotum. In girls, the labia may be widely separated.

How is bladder extrophy treated?

Bladder exstrophy is treated by a surgery to close the bladder and place it back in the abdomen. This is usually done at the same time as the pelvic bones are brought closer together and the abdominal wall defect is repaired, very soon after birth. The genitalia may be reconstructed at this time or possibly in the future. Eventually, depending on how well the bladder works, more surgery may be necessary to achieve urine dryness.