How Long Does Urinary Retention Last After General Anesthesia? [Answered]

There are two types of anesthesia, one general and the other local. General anesthesia puts you to sleep, usually after some kind of medication is injected into your veins through an intravenous drip. This type of anesthesia is often used for surgical procedures that require more than just local anesthesia, which numbs only the immediate area of surgery.
But how long does urinary retention last after general anesthesia? This is a question that many patients ask, so I will answer it today.

How long does urinary retention last after general anesthesia?

How Long Does Urinary Retention Last After General Anesthesia

The short answer is 4-6 weeks.

When undergoing general anesthesia, your muscles and reflexes cannot respond to signals sent from the brain. This is why you are completely unconscious during this type of surgery.

For most surgeries, the patient returns completely conscious after a certain amount of time passes or once they pass a certain level of their recovery. The same goes for patients who undergo local anesthesia—they will regain consciousness and be able to walk around at their leisure after a certain amount of time passes.

But for general anesthesia, the patient will only become conscious 30 minutes or so after they pass a certain level of their recovery. The timing is not really clear, but once it does happen, you’ll notice that there was no discomfort as you were going through this period of recovery.

If the patient does not become conscious during this time, you can say that they may have a case of urinary retention after general anesthesia. In rare cases, the issue will last for as long as 4-6 weeks after your surgery. This will only be if your system is overloaded with fluids or if you received certain medications during or before your surgery.

If your physician prescribes any medication, make sure to take them only as directed. This is to avoid complications like urinary retention after general anesthesia.

What are the symptoms of urinary retention after general anesthesia?

The most obvious symptom of this condition is that you can’t urinate even though you really have to go.
Urine retention can cause pain in the lower back, abdomen, and pelvis. The urine collected inside your urinary bladder will start to irritate it, which triggers these symptoms. You may also feel bloated all over— this symptom is sometimes mistaken for gas because of the flatulence that comes out when you eat.

If you really have to urinate and can’t, then it means that your bladder is already starting to distend (or expand). This happens when the bladder fills up with too much urine and has no more room to store anymore. The easiest way to relieve this condition is by having a catheter inserted into your urethra. The catheter will drain out all the urine inside your bladder so that it can be relieved from pressure.

After your urinary retention is resolved, you will have to undergo another surgery in order for your surgeon to close off your bladder again. This prevents any remaining urine from flowing outside of your bladder—this surgery is called a suprapubic cystostomy.

The main causes of urinary retention after general anesthesia include:

  1. Overdosage of medications.
  2. Too many fluids in your system.

The results of previous surgeries are like an end-to-end anastomosis (the connection between two hollow organs).

How long does anesthesia affect the bladder?

In normal cases, the effects of anesthesia will only last for 6-8 hours. It mainly just results in urinary retention, but it can lead to other complications like an infection that requires medical treatment right away.

How to wake up the bladder after surgery?

The best way to wake up your bladder is by taking medications that will stimulate it to contract and force the urine out. Your physician may also recommend certain treatments like inserting a catheter for you to relieve yourself immediately.

Once your urinary retention has been resolved, you should still let your doctor know so he can schedule another surgery that closes off your bladder again.

In rare cases, urinary retention can last for as long as 4-6 weeks after surgery. This is only if the condition was caused by certain medications or fluids that were given before you went under general anesthesia. If this is not the case, then it will be resolved within a week after surgery.


Urine retention after general anesthesia is resolved within less than a week. This condition can’t be handled at home, so it’s best to seek professional care if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above.

The common cause of this condition is when too much medication is given to the patient or when they receive too many fluids which stretch out their bladder.



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