Children's Hospital Colorado
Colorado Fetal Care Center

Bladder Outlet Obstruction

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What is a bladder outlet obstruction?

Bladder outlet obstruction, also known as a lower urinary tract obstruction (LUTO), is a fetal condition where urine is unable to pass from an unborn baby's bladder to the amniotic sac surrounding it.

What causes bladder outlet obstruction?

The most common cause of bladder outlet obstruction in boys is posterior urethral valves. This condition occurs when a membrane blocks the urethra, the tube that drains the bladder to the amniotic sac. This blockage prevents urine made in the baby's kidneys from draining into the amniotic sac and becoming amniotic fluid, which helps to cushion the baby.

Bladder outlet obstruction in a fetus can impact development in many ways. An obstruction affects the development of the urinary tract, including the bladder and kidneys. Fluid buildup in the bladder can impact lung development, which then puts strain on the heart.

When a baby is not releasing urine, levels of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby drop. This reduces the "cushion" a baby has in the amniotic sac and can delay lung development and limit movement.

Who gets bladder outlet obstruction?

Bladder outlet obstruction occurs in every one of approximately 4,000 births. It is more common in males than in females.

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Nicholas Behrendt, MD

Nicholas Behrendt, MD

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Adel Younoszai, MD

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Cristina Wood, MD

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Mariana Meyers, MD

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