Last reviewed 01/2018

This occurs when there is absolute or incomplete emptying of the bladder of urine.


  • acute urinary retention - an acute cessation of urinary flow which may occur in otherwise normal individuals, especially males, postoperatively.

  • chronic urinary retention - asymptomatic, the result of chronic incomplete bladder emptying; noted as an enlarged bladder on abdominal examination.

Patients with chronic urinary retention may develop acute-on-chronic retention. This may be precipitated by factors such as urinary tract infection or constipation. It causes absolute cessation of urinary flow.