Dayton Children’s Hospital

Bladder exstrophy

What is bladder exstrophy?

Bladder exstrophy is a rare and complex birth defect involving the urinary system and the gastrointestinal (GI), reproductive, and musculoskeletal systems.

In bladder exstrophy, the bladder is open into the lower abdomen. It is sometimes referred to as ‘inside out.’ The tube that typically connects the bladder to the outside of the body, the urethra, is also opened onto the surface of the lower abdomen. Since the bladder and urethra are open onto the abdomen, urine drains on the outside of the body.

Bladder exstrophy develops in the womb. It is more common in males and occurs in approximately 1 in 30,000 live births.

Oftentimes the reproductive system is involved, as well, with abnormally formed external and internal organs and genitalia. The umbilical cord is often lower and the anus may be rotated more forward. The pelvic bones are widely spaced.

In cloacal exstrophy, a more severe variant, the GI system is also often involved- the bowel may be outside the body or enclosed in a sac outside the body (omphalocele), and there may be anal absence (atresia) as well as bowel underdevelopment (hypoplasia). The spine and spinal cord may also be malformed.

How is bladder exstrophy managed?

Treatment of bladder exstrophy involves surgery to correct/improve the abnormalities. If your baby is diagnosed in utero with bladder exstrophy a team will guide you through the planned prenatal and postnatal course. This will include Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialists, pediatric urologists, and neonatologists.


Contact us

Do you have questions about your pregnancy and wonder if our services could be of assistance? Patients may contact our nurse navigator through the email form below or at 844-542-4602 to discuss your unique situation and determine if the Fetal to Newborn Care Center is right for you.

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