Bladder compliance refers to the volume/pressure relationship of the bladder. It is a measure of bladder stiffness and is calculated by measuring the change in bladder volume over the change in bladder pressure. Normally as the bladder fills with urine, bladder pressure remains very low despite very large changes in bladder volume. This results in high bladder compliance which is normal. In other words, in patients with low bladder compliance, the bladder pressure rises considerably with small increments of bladder volume. This rise in pressure may overcome the resistance offered by the urethra and cause incontinence. On the other hand if the sphincter is strong or there is a blockage in the urethra, the high bladder pressure is transmitted back to the kidneys and ureters where it can cause considerable damage. Low bladder compliance is usually due to longstanding urethral obstruction or a rare neurologic condition such as spina bifida.
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