Objectives: To evaluate changes in the smooth muscle and connective tissue development in the obstructed and normal fetal bladder.
Methods: The smooth muscle and connective tissue composition of 19 fetal urinary bladders, including those of 9 fetuses with anatomic obstruction and 10 controls free of urologic disease, were analyzed by light microscopy and computer-assisted color image analysis.
Results: The bladder wall thickness was markedly increased in obstructed fetuses throughout gestation as compared with that in controls. The disparity in bladder wall thickness increased rapidly during gestation. The percent area density of smooth muscle and connective tissue as well as the ratio of smooth muscle to connective tissue remained the same in the obstructed and normal control fetal bladders.
Conclusions: Although bladder outlet obstruction is associated with a marked increase in bladder wall thickness, the percent of smooth muscle and connective tissue comprising the mural histology remains relatively constant as compared with that of normal fetal controls. This study suggests that bladder outlet obstruction in the fetus is not associated with excess collagen deposition but rather with an increased amount of bladder with normal cellular content and a concomitant increase in smooth muscle development.