What is Rupture of the Bladder?
Rupture in the bladder of your cat is a life-threatening condition that disrupts normal accumulation and movement of urine in your cat’s excretory system. The bladder is an important organ that is responsible for storing urine and allowing waste products to flush out of your cat’s system. When the bladder becomes ruptured, urine will pool in the abdomen of your cat. Both the rupture and accumulation of urine in the abdomen can present major medical issues for your cat. If you suspect that your pet has suffered a rupture in the bladder you should seek veterinary care immediately.
Symptoms of Rupture of the Bladder in Cats
Symptoms of a bladder rupture in your cat may not begin immediately. If the urine in your cat is sterile, there may be no immediate infection or discomfort. Eventually, your cat will begin to display symptoms which rapidly worsen until your cat is facing a life threatening battle. Symptoms of bladder rupture may include:
- Lack of appetite
- Straining to urinate
- Blood in urine
- Frequent visits to litter box
- Signs of pain such as vocalization
- Lethargy or lack of movement
- Distension of the abdomen
- Dehydration in the form of pale gums or skin that will not fall back into place when gently pinched
- Hypothermia or inability to regulate body temperature
Causes of Rupture of the Bladder in Cats
Rupture of the bladder in cats occurs when a hole of varying size appears in the bladder wall, allowing urine to leak out into the abdomen. Injury most often occurs at the apex, or top, of the bladder, but can occur anywhere in the organ. The tear or hole has a variety of causes. Some of the most common include:
- Traumatic injury
- Blockage of urethra
- Pelvic fracture
- Injury during catheterization
- Rupture during bladder palpation
- Severe urinary tract infection
Diagnosis of Rupture of the Bladder in Cats
Your vet will begin the diagnosis of a rupture of the bladder in your cat with a thorough physical exam. You should let your veterinarian know if your cat has recently suffered any injury or trauma, as this can speed up the process and help pinpoint your cat’s condition. Your vet will look at your cat’s gums and will collect blood samples to test for various infections, in some cases, systemic sepsis.
Your veterinarian will also test to see if your cat is dehydrated. This is done by gathering an area of skin on your cat, typically around the neck area, and pinching gently. In a healthy cat, the skin should fall back into place smoothly and rapidly. In a dehydrated cat, the skin will slowly fall back into place or not at all and retain some shape of the pinched skin.
The definitive tests for bladder rupture typically involve imaging. Your vet will perform ultrasounds in order to examine the structure of the bladder and check for any tears or holes. In some cases, your vet may also conduct an MRI using contrast dye injected into the bladder. This procedure is typically used to detect smaller leaks or holes. Finally, your vet may choose to order x-rays if trauma is suspected. This will allow the identification of broken bones or other injury. If fluid is detected in the abdomen your vet may collect it with the use of a fine needle in order to analyze whether it is urine or built up fluid from some other cause.
Treatment of Rupture of the Bladder in Cats
Your vet will initially treat your cat by stabilizing its vital signs. If your cat is suffering from dehydration, this will include administering intravenous fluids. Your veterinarian will also check heart rate and breath sounds to confirm they are stable enough to undergo surgery. Your vet will also drain excess urine and fluid from the abdomen with the use of a needle or catheter.
Surgery is the treatment of choice for bladder rupture in cats. This will involve your cat undergoing anesthesia. Anesthesia has a host of risks if your cat is not otherwise in healthy condition. During the surgery, your vet will use small dissolvable stitches to repair the tear or rupture. In a small number of cases, very minor tears or holes may be managed with the use of antibiotics and consistent draining of the abdomen.
Recovery of Rupture of the Bladder in Cats
Recovery and management of a bladder rupture in your cat will depend on the severity and cause of the underlying condition. If the veterinarian is able to repair the bladder and the condition has been caught early, your cat may make a full recovery. Your cat will need to stay several days in your veterinarian’s office as this is a major surgery. Afterwards, your cat will need a quiet place at home to finish healing.