Bladder Exstrophy


Bladder exstrophy occurs when the bladder develops outside of a fetus’ body and is not capable of storing urine.

Bladder exstrophy is a birth condition that’s part of a bigger group of defects known as bladder exstrophy-epispadias complex, or BEEC.

Understanding Bladder Exstrophy

  • In addition to a bladder development abnormality, abnormalities also occur in the genitals and pelvic bones and the reproductive organs.
  • The genesis of the defect begins with the cloaca. This structure is the place where the reproductive, urinary, and digestive openings converge during development in the womb.
  • If bladder exstrophy occurs, this process hasn’t developed properly.
  • The bladder forms outside the body as a flat plate with bladder exstrophy. This can adversely affect and involve organs that are part of the urinary tract, as well as the reproductive and digestive systems.
  • Children may also experience a condition known as vesicoureteral reflux, meaning that urine travels in the wrong direction from the bladder back to the kidneys.
  • Another symptom of children with bladder exstrophy is epispadias. This means that the urethra is not fully developed

Causes & Risk Factors

  • There is no exact known reason for its development. Doctors believe that it is a combination of factors related to both the environment and genetics.
  • However, scientists have learned that susceptibility genes can be a probable cause of a disease or disorder. Studies have shown that the ISL1, a master control gene, may be the susceptibility gene for bladder exstrophy.
  • Age of the mother, using the hormone progesterone during pregnancy, and smoking during pregnancy may contribute to its development.

Diagnosis & Treatment

  • Bladder exstrophy may be detected with an ultrasound, although occasionally it isn’t detected until the child is born.
  • The defect is treated after birth with surgery at varying ages depending on the child’s overall condition. Additional surgeries may be necessary.