Herpes zoster infection: a rare cause of acute urinary retention

Can J Urol. 2003 Jun;10(3):1912-3.


Herpes zoster (HZ) infection has been reported as a rare cause of acute urinary retention. HZ infection involving sacral, thoracolumbar, and rarely high thoracic dermatomes is believed to occasionally cause motor and sensory neuropathy of the bladder. This is specifically achieved by the interruption of the detrusor reflex causing subsequent bladder atonia. As the course and management of this entity is quite benign, HZ should remain a diagnostic consideration in the management of urinary retention. We report a case of acute urinary retention of approximately 2.5 liters associated with HZ infection and review the proposed pathogenesis and therapeutic considerations in the management of this entity.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Herpes Zoster / complications*
  • Herpes Zoster / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / therapeutic use
  • Reflex, Abnormal
  • Urinary Bladder / physiopathology
  • Urinary Retention / physiopathology
  • Urinary Retention / virology*


  • Hydrocortisone