Dr. med. Dirk Manski

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Bladder Exstrophy and Epispadias of the Urethra

Review literature: (Kiddoo et al, 2004) (Woodhouse et al, 2006)

Definition of Bladder Exstrophy and Epispadias

The exstrophy-epispadias complex is a serious rare malformation syndrome of the bladder (exstrophy), the urethra (epispadias) and/or colon (cloacal exstrophy) with often lifelong consequences.


Incidence 2/100.000, male to female ratio = 3:1.

Pathology of the Exstrophy-Epispadias Complex

Individual components of the exstrophy-epispadias complex are expressed variably:

Bladder exstrophy:

Bladder exstrophy is a deficient closure of the lower anterior abdominal wall: the bladder is open anteriorly, the trigonum of the bladder is visible. The posterior bladder wall prolapses through the abdominal wall defect. In addition, there is a diastasis of the symphysis with missing contact between the right and left pubic bone (range 2 to 8 cm).


An epispadias is a rare type of malformation of the urethra. In boys, the urethra ends in an opening on the dorsum of the penis. In girls, the urethra is usually completely open and runs from the bladder neck to the hymen. Proximal variants of epispadias are associated with urinary incontinence due to defects of the sphincter muscle.

Cloacal exstrophy:

Cloacal exstrophy is a malformation with missing closure of the ventral colon wall, there is an opening in the proximal direction to the ileum and in the distal direction to the anus. Hemibladders with one ureteral orifice are located right and left of the open colon.

Associated anomalies:

Deformities of the spine and pelvis, hip dysplasia, abnormalities of the upper urinary tract, uterine malformations, hernia, abnormalities of the heart.

Etiology of Bladder Exstrophy and Epispadias

The missing ingrowth of mesoderm in the cloacal membrane prevents the development of the anterior abdominal wall. The fragile cloacal membrane ruptures in the course of embryonic development. The timing of the rupture and the stage of development at the time of the rupture determines the extent of the malformation: bladder exstrophy, epispadias and cloacal exstrophy. Other mechanisms or alternative explanations are defects of the genital tubercle development, an abnormal pelvic bone development or lack of development of the lateral body wall folds.

Treatment of the Exstrophy-Epispadias Complex

Early management after birth:

Primary closure of bladder exstrophy:

The estimated bladder capacity should be above 5 ml for a successful primary closure. The surgery is done during in the first days of life and includes the complete mobilization of the bladder plate, preparation of the urethral plate and corpora of the penis, closure of the bladder with bladder neck and proximal urethra, approximation of the symphysis ventral to the bladder neck. Some authors advocate a closure of epispadias in the same session, if good conditions are present.

Closure of epispadias:

The surgical correction of epispadias is usually performed in the 6th to 12th month of life. Phallic enlargement is obtained with testosterone treatment. Necessary operation steps are the mobilization and the tubularization of the urethral plate, mobilization and separation of the corpora cavernosa ("penile disassembly technique"), placement of the neourethra to the ventral of the penis, reunification of the corpora, and skin closure.

Surgical alternatives for bladders with small capacity:

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Index: 1–9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Kiddoo u.a. 2004 KIDDOO, D. A. ; CARR, M. C. ; DULCZAK, S. ; CANNING, D. A.:
Initial management of complex urological disorders: bladder exstrophy.
In: Urol Clin North Am
31 (2004), Nr. 3, S. 417–26, vii-viii

Woodhouse u.a. 2006 WOODHOUSE, C. R. ; NORTH, A. C. ; GEARHART, J. P.:
Standing the test of time: long-term outcome of reconstruction of the exstrophy bladder.
In: World J Urol

  Deutsche Version: Harnblasenekstrophie