HomeHealth articlesparaphimosisWhat Are the Ten Urological Emergencies?

Ten Urological Emergencies - Causes, Symptoms, and Management

Verified dataVerified data

5 min read


Urological emergencies are abrupt and critical medical issues that impact the urinary system. Read below to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Madhav Tiwari

Published At April 2, 2024
Reviewed AtApril 5, 2024

What Are Urological Emergencies?

Urological emergencies are sudden, severe medical problems that affect the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. These emergencies can cause a variety of symptoms, including pain, bleeding, and difficulty urinating. Some urological emergencies may result in severe complications, including harm to the kidneys or, in extreme cases, fatality. This article will discuss some of the most common urological emergencies, their causes, their symptoms, and their management.

What Are the Ten Urological Emergencies?

  • Paraphimosis: Paraphimosis is a medical condition where the foreskin, once retracted, becomes trapped behind the glans penis and cannot be pulled back over it. This condition can cause swelling, pain, and potential vascular compromise if not promptly addressed. It commonly occurs when the foreskin is forcibly retracted and then becomes stuck, creating a constrictive band. Paraphimosis requires urgent medical attention to avoid complications, such as tissue damage or impaired blood flow. Treatment may involve manual reduction, topical agents, or, in severe cases, a minor surgical procedure. Timely intervention prevents long-term consequences and ensures the patient's well-being.
  • Priapism: Priapism is a medical emergency characterized by a prolonged and often painful erection that persists beyond or unrelated to sexual stimulation. This situation arises when blood gets stuck in the erectile tissues of the penis, resulting in less drainage. Priapism can be classified into ischemic (low-flow) or non-ischemic (high-flow) types.
  1. Ischemic Priapism: It is more common and typically results from impaired blood outflow, often associated with conditions such as sickle cell disease, leukemia, or certain medications. This type of priapism can cause tissue damage and requires immediate medical attention. Treatment involves draining the excess blood through aspiration or irrigation.
  2. Non-ischemic Priapism: It is less common but usually less urgent and is caused by excessive arterial blood flow into the penis. It is often associated with penile trauma. Monitoring and conservative management may be employed, but intervention may be necessary in persistent cases. If left untreated, priapism can lead to complications such as erectile dysfunction or permanent tissue damage.
  • Penile Fracture: Penile fracture is a rare but serious injury that occurs when the erect penis is forcefully bent or twisted, leading to a tear in the tunica albuginea. This fibrous covering surrounds the erectile tissue. This often happens during vigorous sexual activity, causing a sudden popping sound, sharp pain, and immediate loss of erection. The tear in the tunica albuginea can lead to hematoma formation, swelling, and the characteristic popping sound. Quick medical attention is crucial to prevent complications such as deformity, erectile dysfunction, or urethral injury. Surgical intervention is often necessary to repair the torn tissue and restore normal erectile function.

  • Fournier's Gangrene: Fournier's gangrene is a rare but severe and potentially life-threatening condition characterized by the rapid spread of infection and necrotizing fasciitis in the genital and perineal regions. It primarily affects the external genitalia, perineum, and abdominal wall. The condition is more common in men but can also occur in women.

    1. Cause: Fournier's gangrene usually arises from an initial infection, often related to the genitourinary or anorectal areas. Common causes include perianal abscesses, urinary tract infections, and trauma to the genital area. The bacteria involved are typically polymicrobial, involving a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms.
    2. Symptoms: The symptoms of Fournier's gangrene include severe pain, swelling, redness, and rapidly progressing tissue necrosis. Systemic symptoms such as fever and malaise are common as well. Prompt medical attention is crucial, as the condition can progress rapidly, leading to sepsis and organ failure.
    3. Treatment: The treatment involves aggressive surgical debridement, removing necrotic tissue, and broad-spectrum antibiotics to target the infecting microorganisms. Patients may require multiple surgical interventions, and in severe cases, supportive measures such as intravenous fluids and intensive care may be necessary.
  • Urethral Injuries: Urethral injuries can damage the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. These injuries can result from different causes, including trauma, accidents, or medical procedures. Common symptoms include pain during urination, blood in the urine, and difficulty in passing urine. Diagnosing urethral injuries often requires imaging studies such as urethrography or cystoscopy to assess the extent of damage. Treatment approaches range from conservative measures, like catheterization, to surgical intervention, depending upon the severity of the injury. Complications may include infection, scarring, or stricture formation.

  • Testicular Emergencies: Testicular emergencies encompass a range of urgent conditions affecting the testicles, requiring immediate medical attention.

    1. Testicular Torsion: A critical emergency occurs when the spermatic cord twists, reducing the blood supply to the testicle. This condition presents with sudden and severe testicular pain, swelling, and nausea. Swift intervention is vital to prevent testicular damage or loss.
    2. Acute Epididymitis: Another testicular emergency is acute epididymitis, marked by inflammation of the epididymis, commonly due to infection. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and redness.
    3. Orchitis: An inflammation of the testicle, often caused by a viral or bacterial infection, is another urgent concern. Treatment varies depending on the condition but may include surgery, antibiotics, or anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Kidney Injury: Kidney injury, or acute kidney injury (AKI), is a sudden and rapid decline in kidney function.

    1. Causes: This condition can be led by various factors, including dehydration, severe infections, certain medications, or conditions that affect blood flow to the kidneys. A sudden reduction in urine output, fluid retention, and accumulating waste products in the blood characterize AKI. The diagnosis of AKI involves assessing factors such as serum creatinine levels, urine output, and clinical history.
    2. Treatment: It depends on the underlying cause and may involve addressing the main issue, managing complications, and providing supportive care. In serious instances, patients might need dialysis to help them remove waste products from the blood.
  • Obstructive Pyelonephritis: Obstructive pyelonephritis is a serious kidney infection that occurs when urine flow from one or both kidneys is blocked. The blockage allows bacteria to multiply and accumulate in the kidney, leading to inflammation and infection.

    1. Cause: The most common cause of obstructive pyelonephritis is kidney stones, but other conditions such as blood clots, tumors, or anatomical abnormalities can also cause blockage.
    2. Symptoms of obstructive pyelonephritis can include fever, chills, pain in the flank or lower abdomen, burning sensation during urination, frequent urination, cloudy, bloody, or foul-smelling urine, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Diagnosis of obstructive pyelonephritis typically involves a urinalysis, urine culture, and imaging studies such as an ultrasound or CT scan.
    3. Treatment: The treatment of obstructive pyelonephritis usually involves antibiotics and intravenous fluids. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the blockage. Prevention of obstructive pyelonephritis includes drinking plenty of fluids, urinating regularly, practicing good hygiene, and taking steps to prevent kidney stones.
  • Bladder Injury: Bladder injury, also known as bladder trauma, is any damage to the bladder that disrupts its normal function. It can vary from minor bruises to severe tears or ruptures.

    1. Bladder Injury: It can be caused by a variety of factors, including blunt trauma, penetrating trauma, and iatrogenic injury.
    2. Blunt Trauma: It occurs when a sudden force strikes the lower abdomen, such as in a car accident or fall.
    3. Penetrating Trauma: This occurs when an object pierces the bladder, such as in a gunshot wound or knife wound.
    4. The Iatrogenic Injury: This occurs during medical procedures, such as surgery or catheterization.

There are two main types of bladder injury: intraperitoneal and extraperitoneal.

  1. Intraperitoneal Bladder Injury: This occurs when a tear or rupture in the bladder allows urine to leak into the peritoneal cavity, the space surrounding the abdominal organs.

  2. Extraperitoneal Bladder Injury: This occurs when the tear or rupture in the bladder is confined to the space outside the peritoneal cavity.

Symptoms of bladder injury can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Typical symptoms include blood in the urine (hematuria), pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis, difficulty urinating (dysuria), inability to urinate (anuria), urinary tract infections (UTIs), fever, and chills. Treatment of bladder injury depends on the severity of the injury. Bed rest, pain medication, and observation may treat minor injuries. More severe injuries require surgery to repair the bladder or drain urine from the abdomen.

  • Acute Urinary Retention (AUR): Acute urinary retention is the sudden inability to urinate despite having a full bladder. It is a common urologic emergency that affects men more often than women.

    1. Cause: The most common cause of AUR in men is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an enlargement of the prostate gland that obstructs the flow of urine. Other causes of AUR include kidney stones, medications, and neurological disorders.
    2. Symptoms: The symptoms of AUR can include pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis, difficulty or inability to urinate, and a feeling of fullness in the bladder. If one is encountering any of these symptoms, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately.
    3. Treatment: The treatment for AUR typically involves draining the bladder with a catheter, a thin tube inserted into the urethra. In some cases, medication may also be prescribed to help relax the bladder muscles and make it easier to urinate. If the underlying cause of AUR is a medical condition, such as BPH, treatment will focus on addressing that condition.


In conclusion, urological emergencies encompass a spectrum of critical conditions affecting the urinary system, from the commonly encountered, such as acute urinary retention and bladder injuries, to the more severe, including testicular emergencies, kidney injuries, and Fournier's gangrene. Swift recognition and timely intervention are paramount in managing these emergencies, as complications can lead to long-term consequences and even life-threatening outcomes.

Dr. Madhav Tiwari
Dr. Madhav Tiwari

General Surgery


fournier gangreneparaphimosis
Community Banner Mobile
By subscribing, I agree to iCliniq's Terms & Privacy Policy.

Source Article ArrowMost popular articles

Do you have a question on


Ask a doctor online

*guaranteed answer within 4 hours

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. iCliniq privacy policy