Postsurgical Complications

If any of these signs or symptoms appears after surgery to treat overflow incontinence, contact your physician:

  • Absence of urine for 6 to 8 hours
  • Back pain
  • Blood in urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Fever
  • Inability to keep urine volume within recommended amount
  • Inability to urinate when abdomen is distended
  • Nausea
  • Sudden pain or bleeding when inserting the catheter
  • Urine with foul odor

Patients with spinal cord injuries who experience a severe, pounding headache should immediately self-catheterize to empty their bladder and then call their physician. The headache may indicate unresolved autonomic dysreflexia.

Autonomic dysreflexia is characterized by

  • Sudden rise in blood pressure (paroxysmal hypertension)
  • Facial flushing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Slowed heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Excessive sweating
  • Headache

The symptoms are triggered by an exaggerated autonomic response to a distended bladder. The autonomic nervous system performs many functions, including stimulation of smooth and cardiac muscle, and blood pressure regulation.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 09 Jun 1998

Last Modified: 28 Sep 2015