What is the role of pressure gradients within the bladder?

Updated: Dec 24, 2020
  • Author: Bradley C Gill, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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The pressure gradients within the bladder and urethra play an important functional role in normal micturition. As long as the urethral pressure is higher than that of the bladder, the person will remain continent. If the urethral pressure is abnormally low or if the intravesical pressure is abnormally high, urinary incontinence will result.

During some physical activities and with coughing, sneezing, or laughing, the pressure within the abdomen rises sharply. This rise is transmitted to the bladder, and in response the urethra both anatomically and functionally is designed to increase its pressure and maintain continence. When the pressure transmitted to the bladder is greater than that within the urethra, urine will leak out, resulting in stress incontinence.

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