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What are possible complications of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?

Marc B. Garnick, MD
Hematology & Oncology
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate, can produce complications that, while not life-threatening, nonetheless require medical attention. If the blockage is so severe that it keeps your bladder from emptying completely, you may be vulnerable to frequent urinary tract infections. The risk of developing bladder stones also increases. The growth of the prostate can rupture blood vessels in the urethra, causing blood to appear in the urine.

If obstructive BPH goes untreated for too long, the bladder may become distended, its muscular wall may weaken, and you may be unable to squeeze any urine past the obstructing prostate gland, a condition known as acute urinary retention. The bladder may become so distended that urine cannot adequately empty from the kidneys. In the most severe cases, this can lead to kidney failure.

And not being able to urinate at all is a medical emergency, requiring the temporary passage of a catheter (a thin tube) through the urethra to allow the bladder to drain. Fortunately, such complications are uncommon because most men seek medical attention well before serious problems develop.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.