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What is Bladder Augmentation?

The bladder's job is to store urine and release it when it's full. It is one of the many organs located in the lower part of your abdomen. Sometimes the bladder isn't large enough to hold the usual amount of urine made by the kidneys, so a bladder enlargement or augmentation may help.

What Happens under Normal Conditions?

Male Urinary Tract
Male urinary tract
Medical Illustration Copyright © 2015 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved

Female Urinary Tract
Female urinary tract
Medical Illustration Copyright © 2015 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved

The urinary tract is like a plumbing system with special 'pipes' for water and wastes to flow through. The urinary tract is made of the kidneys, 2 ureters, the bladder, and the urethra.

The kidneys act as a filter system for the blood. They remove toxins and keep the useful sugar, salts, and minerals. Urine is the waste product made by the kidneys. It flows from the kidneys down two, 10 to 12-inch-long tubes called ureters into the bladder.

The bladder is a balloon-shaped organ that stores urine. It's held in place by pelvic muscles in the lower part of your belly. When it isn't full, the bladder is relaxed. Nerve signals in your brain let you know that your bladder is getting full. When full, you feel the need to urinate. The brain tells the bladder muscles to squeeze (or “contract”). This forces the urine out of your body through your urethra.

Your urethra has muscles called sphincters. They help keep the urethra closed so urine doesn't leak out before you're ready to go to the bathroom. These sphincters open up when the bladder contracts.

What is Bladder Augmentation?

In some people, the bladder isn't large enough to hold the urine made by the kidneys. Urine may leak from the bladder.

In others, the bladder muscle may lose its ability to stretch ("expand"). If this happens, pressure in the bladder can build up. This can keep urine from draining properly. Sometimes the pressure can push the urine back up through the ureters into the kidneys ("reflux").

Either of these conditions can cause wetting ("incontinence"), urinary tract infections, or kidney damage.

Bladder augmentation is an operation to make the bladder larger. It can also lower the pressure in the bladder and make it more elastic.