The inadequate bladder template: Its effect on outcomes in classic bladder exstrophy

Heather N. Di Carlo, Mahir Maruf, John Jayman, Karl Benz, Mathew Kasprenski, John P. Gearhart

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Introduction: Newborns with classic bladder exstrophy (CBE) may present with a bladder template that is inadequate for closure in the neonatal period (figure). In these cases, a delayed primary closure (DPC) is conducted to permit growth of the bladder template. This study reports the surgical and long-term urinary continence outcomes of poor template CBE patients undergoing DPC and compares them to patients who underwent DPC for reasons unrelated to bladder quality (i.e., prematurity, comorbidities, or a late referral). Methods: An institutionally approved, prospectively maintained database of 1330 exstrophy–epispadias complex patients was reviewed for CBE patients who underwent DPC at the authors' institution. A bladder template was considered inadequate for neonatal closure if found to be inelastic, <3 cm in diameter, and/or covered in hamartomatous polyps. Results: In total, 63 patients (53 male and 10 female) undergoing DPC were identified. Of these, 36 had poor bladder templates (group 1). The remaining 27 patients (group 2) had adequate templates and their bladder closure was delayed for reasons unrelated to bladder quality. At the time of DPC, those in group 1 were relatively than those in group 2 (median of 229 vs. 128 days, p = 0.094). All 36 group 1 patients and 26 (96%) group 2 patients underwent pelvic osteotomy during DPC (p = 0.429). All patients in this study had a successful primary closure. There was little difference in longitudinal bladder capacities between group 1 and group 2 (p = 0.518). Also, there was minimal difference in the median number of continence procedures between groups, with both groups having 1 (IQR 1–1) continence procedure (p = 0.880). Eight patients in group 1, and three patients in group 2 underwent a bladder neck transection with urinary diversion. Of the 13 and 16 patients who have undergone a continence procedure in group 1 and 2, respectively, 11 (84.6%) and 13 (81.3%) are continent of urine. The age of first continence procedure was different between groups 1 and 2 at 8.0 years (5.8–9.9 years) and 4.8 (3.5–6.0 years), respectively p = 0.009. The majority of patients in group 1 established continence at a relatively later age when compared to those in group 2, at 11.4 (8.0–14.8) years and 7.9 (2.6–13.2) years of age respectively p = 0.087. Discussion: In the authors' view, neonatal bladder closure is ideal for CBE patients as it minimizes potential damage to exposed bladder mucosa. However, prior studies indicate that the rate of bladder growth for patients undergoing a delayed primary closure does not differ from patients with a neonatal closure. Results from this study show continued evidence that patients with poor templates who undergo delayed closure have excellent primary closure outcomes, which is critical for further management. Furthermore, this study shows that an inadequate bladder does not affect DPC outcomes or the continence outcomes in DPC patients. However, the inadequate template does affect the type of continence procedure available to a DPC patient, the age of first continence procedure, and the age of continence. Conclusions: DPC of the exstrophic bladder has a high rate of success when pelvic osteotomy is utilized as an adjunct. Patients having a DPC for reasons of an inadequate bladder template have comparable rates of bladder growth when compared to DPC of an adequate bladder template. The inadequate bladder template affects the type of continence procedure, with the majority of patients requiring urinary diversion for continence. Patients with an inadequate bladder template have a later age of first continence procedure and a relatively later age of continence, because of an inherently smaller bladder template at birth. The inadequate bladder template patients require a longer period of surveillance to access bladder growth and capacity in preparation of a continence procedure. Furthermore, as the majority of inadequate bladder template patients require a catheterizable channel for continence, the age of continence is also likely influenced by the patient's preparation as they transition from volitional voiding to catheterization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427.e1-427.e7
JournalJournal of pediatric urology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Bladder capacity
  • Bladder exstrophy
  • Bladder template
  • Delayed closure
  • Urinary continence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Urology


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