Bladder exstrophy

A congenital abnormality where a baby's bladder is on the outside of the abdomen, rather than on the inside. Also known as ectopia vesicae.

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What is a bladder exstrophy?

The word 'exstrophy' means inside out. A bladder exstrophy is a birth defect that happens when the skin over the bottom part of your baby's lower abdominal wall does not form correctly. The bladder is exposed on the outside of the abdomen. It is sometimes not detected immediately in girls.

Need to know

Symptoms of bladder exstrophy may include:

  • problems with urine flowing from the bladder
  • frequent urination as the bladder has a smaller capacity than usual
  • the anus may be further down than usual
  • the belly button may be further down than usual
  • undescended testes in boys (testicles not in their usual place)
  • an umbilical or inguinal hernia
Bladder exstrophy is often not detected until your baby is born, when it is clearly visible. It may also be diagnosed before birth using ultrasound scans as part of routine maternity tests.

Bladder exstrophy is corrected in a series of operations over the first few years of your baby's life. The overall aim of treatment is to create continence and good genital and urinary function, alongside preventing any kidney damage.

Your consultant will explain the treatment plan for your baby, as it can vary from infant to infant. It is essential that any child who has been born with exstrophy is looked after by an expert throughout their life. There can be a range of problems with the bladder, kidneys and genitals. Some will need surgery. The follow-up and some decisions can be complex. You will need a specialist to help you.

Our Bladder exstrophy locations

The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Portland Hospital

The Portland Hospital

205-209 Great Portland Street W1W 5AH London
The Shard Outpatients

The Shard Outpatients

The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street SE1 9BS London
The Wellington Hospital

The Wellington Hospital

8A Wellington Place NW8 9LE London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.