Pathogenesis of bladder exstrophy: A new hypothesis

J Pediatr Urol. 2015 Dec;11(6):314-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpurol.2015.05.030. Epub 2015 Jul 30.


Classical bladder exstrophy affects 1 in 30 000 live births. Results of surgical treatment from different institutions employing various surgical techniques are not uniform, thus there is a need for a consensus on the best technique for bladder exstrophy repair. Surgical correction in bladder exstrophy would be more effective if the exact pathogenetic mechanism was deduced and the procedure was directed to correct the cause, which is responsible for the defect. The anatomy of exstrophy shows that the infraumbilical abdominal wall, the anterior wall of the bladder, and the urethra are split, with splayed out genitalia and musculature along with pubic diastasis. There is no tissue loss and hence embryological defect is unlikely to be the cause of bladder exstrophy. Thus there is a need to examine pathogenesis of bladder exstrophy.

Methods: A literature search was made of the various hypotheses for cause of bladder exstrophy, and attempts were made to propose a new hypothesis. The present hypothesis is also the basis for a technique of mobilization of pelvic musculature, done in two stages.

Results: The functional outcomes of 38 children with bladder exstrophy managed over a period of 10 years were reviewed. At a mean follow-up of 4.5 years (range 2.5-8 years), 82% of patients were functionally continent.

Conclusions: The exact embryopathogenesis of bladder exstrophy is unknown. In this study a new hypothesis is proposed, with the aim of tailoring the surgical procedure to correct this defect. Bladder exstrophy epispadias complex (BEEC) is a deformative disruption occurring after embryogenic phase and pubic diastasis, and is central to exstrophy development. A working hypothesis can be formulated in line with our observation so that future experiments based this new hypothesis can aim to elucidate the exact pathogenesis.

Keywords: Bladder exstrophy epispadias complex (BEEC); Bladder exstrophy pathogenesis; Fetal deformation; Fetal disruption; Levator hammock; Mobilization of pelvic musculature in bladder exstrophy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bladder Exstrophy / embryology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn