Continuous Bladder Irrigation

What Is The Purpose Behind Continuous Bladder Irrigation?

Continuous bladder irrigation is a medical procedure which is usually performed for one of two reasons. First, it is performed to minimize the chances of blood clots forming in the bladder following certain types of surgery. Second, it is a means of injecting medication into the bladder to fight an infection or for some other reason.


Continuous bladder irrigation is not a terribly complicated procedure, though specialized instruments are used. The procedure does have to be monitored fairly closely however to ensure that the desired results are being obtained, and also to ensure no complications arise. The procedure may become necessary when there is either a disease of the bladder, or the function of the bladder is being impaired by another body condition, such as an enlarged prostate gland.

Bladder Function And Diseases - The function of the bladder is to store urine, as received from the kidneys, and when full, to release the urine. The human bladder can contain up to about 2 cups of urine. When the amount of urine in the bladder approaches this amount, nerves send a message to the brain that it is time to release the urine. The brain in turn gives you the urge to empty your bladder. While diseases of the bladder are not terribly common, there are two of them that may lead to a requirement for the continuous bladder irrigation procedure. One is bladder cancer, and the irrigation procedure may be applied following surgery on the bladder, for the purpose of keeping blot clots from forming, washing away any that might form, and minimizing the chance of complications in the form of infection following the surgery.


The other disease is urinary retention, where the individual has problems in emptying the bladder. Where there can be several causes behind this, a common cause is an enlarged prostate. An enlarged prostate does not always affect urination, but in some case it can. When that is the case it may be necessary to surgically eliminate tissue that is causing the partial blockage. Since the prostate will generally bleed profusely following surgery, continuous bladder irrigation becomes a necessary means of washing away the blood, and eliminating potential blood clots. The procedure is also very often required when surgery is performed on the prostate because of an incidence of prostate cancer.

The Procedure - The continuous bladder irrigation procedure is usually ordered by a physician and then performed either by the physician, a registered nurse, or a nurse practitioner. A special catheter is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. Once inserted, a small balloon filled with a saline solution helps keep it in place. Both irrigation and urination occur through the catheter. The catheter is retained until either the proper amount of medication has been administered, or if there has been surgery performed, until the urine is essentially free of blood.  Following certain types of surgery the catheter may have to remain in place several days, but 24 hours is more common.

Where Transurethral Resection Of The Prostate Fits In - The condition in which the prostate gland has become enlarged, is pressing against the urethra, and impedes the flow of urine, can be corrected through an operation called a transurethral resection of the prostate, or TURP. This is the most common situation in which the continuous bladder irrigation procedure will be called for. The bladder is first inspected with an endoscope which is passed through the urethra. A second instrument containing an electrified loop is passed into the bladder, and is used to cut tissue from the prostate and at the same time cauterizes the cuts. Pieces of tissue are then removed through a drainage catheter. If bleeding persists following the TURP procedure, a continuous bladder irrigation procedure may well be in order.