Singapore Med J 2011; 52(1) : 24
O r i g i n a l A r t i c l e
Services Institute of
Rahim Yar Khan,
A/Prof Abdul Mannan
Tel: (92) 42 7655680
Fax: (92) 42 37723334
Foreign bodies in the urinary bladder and
their management: a Pakistani experience
Mannan A, Anwar S, Qayyum A, Tasneem R A
Introduction: This was a retrospective study
conducted to assess the nature, presentation,
mode of insertion, diagnosis and management of
foreign bodies in the urinary bladder.
Methods: Between January 1998 and December
2007, 20 patients with foreign bodies in their
urinary bladder were treated at our centre. The
records of these patients were reviewed and
analysed for their symptoms, mode of insertion,
diagnosis, management and complications.
Results: A total of 20 foreign bodies were recovered
from the urinary bladders during the study period.
These included JJ stents with calculi, intrauterine
contraceptive devices with stones, a rubber
stick, ribbon gauze, encrusted pieces of Foley
catheter, proline thread with calculus, a suture
needle, broken cold knives, the ceramic beak of
a paediatric resectoscope, a knotted suprapubic
tube, a hair clip, a nail, an electrical wire and a
hairpin. The common presenting features were
dysuria and haematuria. The diagnosis was
established radiologically in most of the cases.
The circumstances of insertion were variable;
iatrogenic in 16 (80.0 percent) cases, sexual
stimulation in two (10.0 percent), accidental
insertion by a child in one (5.0 percent) and physical
torture in one (5.0 percent). 17 (85.0 percent)
foreign bodies were recovered endoscopically,
and cystolithotomy was required in three (15.0
Conclusion: The instances of foreign bodies in
the urinary bladder are uncommon. A diagnosis
is usually made radiologically. Iatrogenic foreign
bodies were found to be the most frequent type
of insertion encountered. Endoscopic retrieval is
usually successful, with minimal morbidity.
Keywords: endoscopic management, foreign
bodies, iatrogenic, urinary bladder
Singapore Med J 2011; 52(1): 24-28
The presence of foreign bodies in the urinary bladder
has always been an interesting topic. Every urologist
occasionally comes across such patients in his practice.
A large number of cases have been reported in the
literature, and they have now become an important
part of the study of urological diseases. Objects that
have been reported in the urinary bladder include
electrical wires,(1) chicken bones,(2) wooden sticks,(3)
thermometers,(4) bullets,(5) intrauterine contraceptive
devices (IUCDs),(6-8) encrusted sutures,(9) surgical
staples with stones,(10) ribbon gauze,(11) pieces of Foley
catheter,(12) broken pieces of endoscopic instruments,(13)
knotted suprapubic catheter(14) and many other items.
Not all patients volunteer their history of insertion,
especially those who have inserted the objects for
Fig. 1 (a) Plain radiograph shows a JJ stent with a calculus.
(b) Photograph shows the JJ stent with a calculus after removal.
Singapore Med J 2011; 52(1) : 25
sexual gratification. Many patients do not seek advice
for months due to embarrassment. The presenting
features usually include urinary tract infection, pain
and haematuria.(15) The physical examination is almost
always unremarkable, and urine microscopy usually
reveals pus cells and red blood cells. Radiopaque
objects can easily be seen on radiographs, while others
are identified by the sonologist. Cystoscopy is rarely
required for diagnosis. Most of the inserted objects can
be retrieved endoscopically using the latest available
equipment and open surgery is usually not required.
In this study, we present our experience with foreign
bodies in the urinary bladder over the course of nine
A total of 20 patients with foreign bodies in the
urinary bladder were treated between January 1998
and December 2007 at our institution. The patients’
records were reviewed retrospectively. Their clinical
features, mode of insertion, diagnosis, management and
complications were analysed.
The mean age of the patients was 35.8 ± 20.0 years.
The nature of the foreign bodies in the urinary bladder,
modes of insertion and management are listed in Tables
I and II. Dysuria and haematuria were found to be
common symptoms among the patients. A diagnosis
was made by plain radiography in 14 (70.0%) patients
with radiopaque foreign bodies. Six (30.0%) patients
required ultrasonography or cystoscopy for diagnosis.
The circumstances of insertion were iatrogenic in 16
patients, sexual stimulation in two patients, accidental
insertion by a child in one patient and torture in one
patient. The foreign bodies were endoscopically
retrieved in 17 (85.0%) patients without any
complications. Endoscopic removal was not possible in
three (15.0%) patients, so cystolithotomy was carried
Foreign bodies may reach the urinary bladder by one
of the following modes: iatrogenic, perforation from
adjacent organs, via the urethra or the traumatic route.(16)
The incidence of iatrogenic foreign bodies in the urinary
bladder is on the rise as a result of the large number of
surgical procedures being conducted all over the world.
The tips of Foley catheters and pieces of balloon have
been found in the bladder on many occasions.(12) In
our study, pieces of Foley catheters were found in
two patients undergoing transurethral resection of the
prostate. Forgotten urological stents may present with
encrustations or stone formation, making their removal
difficult.(17) We had to perform cystolithotomy in two
cases in order to remove large vesical calculi over the DJ
stents (Fig. 1). Broken parts of endoscopic instruments
can sometimes be retrieved from the urinary bladder. We
successfully removed the ceramic beak of a paediatric
resectoscope sheath and broken cold knives from the
urinary bladder endoscopically. Many iatrogenic foreign
bodies have also been reported following open bladder
surgery. These include ribbon gauze,(6) clips(10) and
sutures with stones.(9) In our study, most of the cases
(80.0%) were iatrogenic in nature.
The perforation of foreign bodies into the urinary
bladder from the adjacent organs is extremely rare.
Foreign bodies can perforate the urinary bladder from
the gastrointestinal or female genital tract. Although
IUCDs are widely used, only a small fraction perforates
the bladder. They can perforate either at the time of
insertion or by slow migration across the bladder and
uterine walls.(8) Most of the perforations take place at
the time of insertion and go unnoticed. Dietrick et al
reported one case of IUCD migration into the urinary
bladder that became symptomatic 16 years after
Type of foreign body Mode of removal No. of cases
JJ stent with calculus
IUCD with calculus
Piece of Foley balloon
Propylene suture with calculus Endoscopy
Broken cold knife
Ceramic beak of paediatric
Knotted suprapubic tube
IUCD: intrauterine contraceptive device
Table I. Iatrogenic foreign bodies found in our study
(n = 16).
Type of foreign body Mode of removal No. of cases
Table II. Foreign bodies via urethral insertion found in
our study (n = 4).
Singapore Med J 2011; 52(1) : 26
insertion.(7) Encrustations and stone formation over a
migrated IUCD are common; however, the duration is
variable. In our study, we retrieved three IUCDs with
stones from the urinary bladder endoscopically (Figs. 2
Urethral insertion is encountered in both male and
female patients; however, it is more common in the latter
due to the presence of a short urethra. A variety of objects
can be introduced via the urethral route into the bladder.
Some of the common aetiologies of urethral insertion
include psychiatric disorder, autoerotic stimulation and
senility.(18) In our study, we retrieved a large nail and a
hair clip from two young girls, which had been inserted
for sexual stimulation (Figs. 4 & 5). Foreign bodies can
sometimes be inadvertently placed in the bladder by
women in order to induce an abortion (Fig. 6). It is rare,
however, for foreign bodies to be forcibly pushed into
the urethra by another person. In our study, one patient
presented with the forced insertion of an electrical cable
by an enemy (Fig. 7). Similar cases have been reported
by others.(16) In rare instances, living foreign bodies can
also reach the urinary bladder by the urethral route.
Mukherjee reported two cases of invertebrates in the
urinary bladder that required cystolithotomy.(19) Suicide
attempts have also been reported among mentally
retarded persons through the self-insertion of foreign
bodies into the urinary bladder. These patients require
psychiatric evaluation.(20,21) Self-insertion among
children is rare. In our study, we encountered a four-
year-old girl who introduced a hair pin into the bladder
while playing with it (Fig. 8).
In rare cases, foreign bodies can erode the
gastrointestinal tract and produce enterovesical fistulae.
Many such cases have been reported in the literature.
These include a chicken bone,(2) wooden stick,(3) knife
blade,(22) thermometer(4) and a piece of gauze.(11) Foreign
bodies may sometimes reach the urinary bladder by the
traumatic route. These include bullets, pieces of shells
Fig. 2 (a) Plain radiograph shows a Lippes loop with a calculus.
(b) Photograph shows the Lippes loop with stone fragments
after endoscopic removal.
Fig. 3 (a) Plain radiograph shows a Copper T with a calculus.
(b) Photograph shows the Copper T with stone fragments after
Singapore Med J 2011; 52(1) : 27
and splinters. Bullets are able to stay in the bladder
without significant symptoms being reported.(5)
Most of the foreign bodies in the urinary bladder can
be successfully removed endoscopically using grasping
forceps, stone punch, glass syringe, basket or cutting loop.
Smaller foreign bodies can be retrieved intact, whereas
bigger ones require fragmentation. In our study, a stone
punch was used to cut up the foreign bodies or their
associated calculi on six occasions. A resectoscope loop
may sometimes be used to disentangle foreign bodies from
the urinary bladder. Care must be taken to avoid bladder
mucosal injury during removal. Endoscopic removal is
associated with minimal morbidity and hospital stay. With
the advent of a variety of modern endoscopic instruments,
open surgery is rarely required.
Since laparoscopy has become a popular technique,
innovations have been made to utilise its instruments in
the urinary bladder. Recently, some studies have reported
the use of laparoscopic techniques to retrieve foreign
bodies from the urinary bladder. These techniques are
especially useful in children, where bigger scopes cannot
be used transurethrally.(14) Chitale and Burgess reported a
case in which pieces of a one-metre long telephone wire
were removed from a urinary bladder through the use of
A nephroscope sheath may sometimes be useful to
extract larger foreign bodies from the urinary bladder.
Nishiyama et al reported the removal of a thermometer
from the bladder through the use of a nephroscope
sheath.(4) A pencil has been retrieved from the urinary
bladder in a similar fashion.(24) Recently, a holmium laser
was utilised to fragment complex foreign bodies in the
urinary bladder in order to save patients from having
to undergo cystotomy. It was used to fragment a suture
needle with a stone,(25) propyline mesh(26) and the ceramic
beak of a resectoscope.(13)
Fig. 4 Plain radiograph shows a hair clip.
Fig. 5 Plain radiograph shows a large nail.
Fig. 6 (a) Ultrasonography image of the urinary bladder shows
a large rubber stick. (b) Photograph shows pieces of the rubber
stick after endoscopic removal.
Singapore Med J 2011; 52(1) : 28
Fig. 7 Plain radiograph shows an electrical wire in the bladder
Fig. 8 Plain radiograph shows a hair pin.
In conclusion, the number of iatrogenic foreign
bodies found in the urinary bladder is alarming. Extra
care must be taken to avoid such occurrences. Urologists,
surgeons and paramedical staff must be very vigilant
when performing procedures. For instance, it is always
wise to examine the tip of the Foley catheter after
removal. Endoscopic instruments should be checked
before and after use. Moreover, patients with stents
should receive clear instructions about their removal.
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