Urinary Retention

Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2019 Nov;37(4):649-660. doi: 10.1016/j.emc.2019.07.005. Epub 2019 Aug 16.


Urinary retention is a common problem encountered in the emergency department. Acute urinary retention (AUR) presents as a sudden inability to voluntarily void, and is typically associated with lower abdominal pain. Its etiology can be varied and multifactorial. Treatment of AUR aims to relieve the obstruction and mitigate the underlying cause of retention. This can generally be accomplished in the emergency department without immediate urologic consultation; however, certain clinical features may require specialist involvement. This article provides an overview of the common causes of urinary retention, as well as emergency department evaluation, treatment, and disposition of patients with acute retention.

Keywords: Benign prostatic hyperplasia; Catheter; Catheterization; Foley; Retention; Urinary retention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Urinary Retention / diagnosis*
  • Urinary Retention / etiology
  • Urinary Retention / therapy