Preventing post-operative urinary retention to improve outcomes and reduce costs

WestRenal and Urogenital
Start Date: 1 Oct 2015

Preventing post-operative urinary retention to improve outcomes and reduce costs


Post-operative urinary retention (not being able to pass urine after surgery) is common, affecting up to 7 out of every 10 patients who have surgery. Catheterisation – inserting a tube to drain the bladder – is the usual treatment for urinary retention. However, this often lengthens a patient’s hospital stay after surgery, and poses extra risks, such as urinary infection.  It is also unpleasant for the patient.

There are many triggers for post-operative urinary retention. Some relate to the individual, such as age and gender. Others relate to the type of surgery, type of anaesthetic or pain killers.

This project came from an idea by patient contributor Nick Leggett. Nick submitted it as an idea for research through the CLAHRC West open call in 2016.

As a patient, Nick experienced post-operative urinary retention, requiring catheterisation, after three different common non-urgent surgical procedures. He has worked as a researcher alongside the rest of the project team in a pioneering form of co-production.

Project aims

This project aims to review the literature to identify the factors influencing whether a patient will develop urinary retention and what can be done to prevent and treat it. We will develop an intervention based on the results of the literature review to prevent post-operative urinary retention.

We will compare patients who receive the intervention with those who do not. We will compare outcomes such as the frequency of catheterisation, length of hospital stay, pain, and complication rates between the two groups.

Anticipated impacts

This project may lead to a full or pilot study. The results could reduce urinary retention following surgery and may help the NHS save money by reducing hospital stays following surgery.

Dr Penny Whiting