Urinary retention is common after anesthesia and surgery, reported incidence of between 5% and 70%. Comorbidities, type of surgery, and type of anesthesia influence the development of postoperative urinary retention (POUR). The authors review the overall incidence and mechanisms of POUR associated with surgery, anesthesia and analgesia. Ultrasound has been shown to provide an accurate assessment of urinary bladder volume and a guide to the management of POUR. Recommendations for urinary catheterization in the perioperative setting vary widely, influenced by many factors, including surgical factors, type of anesthesia, comorbidities, local policies, and personal preferences. Inappropriate management of POUR may be responsible for bladder overdistension, urinary tract infection, and catheter-related complications. An evidence-based approach to prevention and management of POUR during the perioperative period is proposed.