Urethral obstruction is a potentially life-threatening condition. The urethra is the structure that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. This passageway can be blocked due to many different causes such as bladder stones, inflammation, hematoma, prostatic disease, stricture, neoplasia, neurological disease, etc. When a blockage occurs the urine is unable to drain from the bladder. This will eventually build up to a point where the fluid, electrolyte and acid-base status of the animal is affected and acute kidney failure and death will commence within 2-3 days if it is not properly managed.
When the patient has complete urethral obstruction, it is an emergency and they will need general anesthesia for a urinary catheter to be passed in an attempt to re-establish patency to the urethra. Prior diagnostics (diagnostic bloodwork, urinalysis, abdominal radiographs) will need to be performed to determine the cause of obstruction. Depending on the cause of obstruction some patients may also need additional surgery such as cystotomy (if bladder stones are involved) or other diagnostics (biopsy if a urethral or bladder mass is suspected, urine culture if an infection is suspected, referral to a neurologist if a neurological disease is suspected).