Urinary System (Bladder, Ureters, and Kidney)

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Endometriosis close to the urinary organs, like the bladder, can cause symptoms such as pain with urinating (dysuria), blood in the urine (hematuria), urinary frequency/urgency/incontinence. However, it is important to note they may NOT cause symptoms. This is important because endometriosis around the ureters (the tubes that take your urine from your kidneys to your bladder) may not cause symptoms but can lead to kidney failure. Close follow up with your provider is important. 

Bladder:

Symptoms are similar to interstitial cystitis (seeInterstitial cystitis) and may include (potentially cyclical but not necessarily so) urgency, suprapubic pain, pain with urination, blood in the urine, inflammation of the bladder lining, etc.

  • Ferrero, S., Bogliolo, S., Menada, M. V., Ragni, N., Biscaldi, E., Camerini, G., & Remorgida, V. (2009). Diagnosis and management of bladder endometriosis. Journal of Endometriosis1(3-4), 113-121. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/2284026509001003-401 

“Bladder endometriosis is defined as full-thickness infiltration of the detrusor; small sub-peritoneal implants and small nodules of the vesicouterine fold cannot be considered to be bladder endometriosis. In women with endometriosis, urinary tract involvement is rare (1% to 5% of cases) but the bladder is affected in 80% to 84% of these cases. Symptoms of bladder endometriosis are various and not specific: besides pain symptoms, patients may complain of urinary frequency, urgency, urge incontinence, dysuria, and hematuria. Although bladder endometriosis may be suspected at vaginal examination, the preoperative diagnosis is based on transvaginal ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging. Medical therapies may temporarily reduce the severity of symptoms related to the presence of vesical endometriosis; however, the symptoms may persist in cases of large bladder nodules or may recur after cessation of therapy. Surgery represents the gold standard for treatment of bladder endometriosis and laparoscopy should be preferred to laparotomy. Excision of bladder nodules may be performed either by partial-thickness resection or by partial cystectomy according to the size and depth of the infiltration of the lesions in the bladder wall. Persistent improvement of symptoms has been demonstrated at long-term follow-up, particularly when the lesions involve the vesical dome.”

“…urinary tract involvement especially the bladder endometriosis is a rare entity in women of reproductive age with clinical symptoms of cyclical urgency, hematuria and suprapubic pain. We herein present magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings of spontaneous bladder endometriosis case with cyclical hematuria symptoms.”

Bladder Links:

Ureter:

Ureter endometriosis, while rare, is important for a provider to assess. It does not have many specific symptoms to identify and so can be insidious with its harm. The studies below highlight endometriosis in other areas that have been shown to occur frequently with endometriosis of the ureters. 

“Little attention has been paid by the renal literature to ureteral endometriosis, a rare and silent disorder that can eventually lead to renal failure. In endometriosis, the ureteral involvement can be limited to a single ureter, more often the left one, or both ureters with consequent urine tract obstruction and ureterohydronephrosis. In most cases, the ureteral obstruction is caused by endometrial tissue surrounding the ureter (extrinsic ureteral endometriosis). In the remaining cases, endometrial cells are located within the ureter (intrinsic ureteral endometriosis). Progressive ureteral obstruction can be insidious in onset and can ultimately lead to renal failure if a correct diagnosis is missed. The true incidence of renal failure caused by endometriosis is completely unknown, although cases have been reported in the literature. The diagnosis of ureteral endometriosis is difficult since the disease may be clinically silent or associated with non-specific symptoms. Only a high index of suspicion and radiological support may help to obtain an early diagnosis. However, while renal imaging is useful in the cases of extrinsic endometriosis, the diagnosis of intrinsic endometriosis often requires ureteroscopy or laparoscopy. The prognosis of ureteral endometriosis depends on the time of diagnosis. In too many cases of bilateral obstruction, the patient is referred to the nephrologist because of an advanced, irreversible renal failure. Although some patients may benefit from progestin or anti-arotamase therapy, in most cases of ureteral endometriosis surgery is needed, laparoscopy surgery being preferred today to laparatomy.”

“Ureteral endometriosis is a serious localization of disease burden that can lead to urinary tract obstruction, with subsequent hydroureter, hydronephrosis, and potential kidney loss. Diagnosis is elusive and relies heavily on clinical suspicion as ureteral endometriosis can occur with both minimal and extensive disease. Surgical technique to treatment varies, but the goal is to salvage renal function and decrease disease burden.

“Although a relatively common gynecologic condition, localization to areas distinct from the peritoneum, ovary, and rectovaginal septum occurs in up to 12% of women with endometriosis.3 Pelvic endometriosis can infrequently involve the urinary tract system in approximately 1% of cases, which is a prevalence of 3.5 million women worldwide.4 The bladder is the most commonly involved site and the urethra the least. Of these localizations of disease, ureteral endometriosis accounts for approximately 10% of genitourinary involvement, which is 350,000 women worldwide.4,5 In endometriosis, ureteral involvement is often limited to one ureter, commonly the left, and can potentially lead to urinary tract obstruction, ureterohydronephrosis, and loss of renal function. There are estimates that 30% or nearly a 100,000 women with ureteral endometriosis will have 25% to 50% loss of nephrons at time of diagnosis of ureteral endometriosis, and an unknown number will then have loss of the kidney.6 This final insult of complete loss of renal function is exceedingly rare.

“Ureteral endometriosis is a serious localization of disease burden. Asymmetric involvement of endometriosis, with the left pelvis more commonly involved than the right, is readily explained by anatomic differences of the pelvis.12 The distal segment of the ureters and bladder are the more frequently involved locations due to the proximity of the reproductive organs.13 Additionally, ureteral endometriosis is more likely to be associated with rectosigmoid lesions as opposed to bladder involvement.14 Two major pathological types exist: extrinsic and intrinsic ureteral endometriosis. In the extrinsic type, which is the most common, endometrial glandular and stromal tissue involve only the adventitia of the ureter or surrounding connective tissues, whereas the intrinsic type involves the muscularis propria, lamina propria, or ureteral lumen.1” 

Kidney/Renal:

  • Giambelluca, D., Albano, D., Giambelluca, E., Bruno, A., Panzuto, F., Agrusa, A., … & Lagalla, R. (2017). Renal endometriosis mimicking complicated cysts of kidney: report of two cases. Il Giornale di chirurgia38(5), 250. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5761639/ 

“Although usually occurring in pelvic organs, endometrial lesions may involve urinary tract. Renal endometriosis is extremely rare and it has only occasionally been reported in the past. We report two cases of patients with renal cystic lesions, incidentally found at imaging techniques during oncologic follow-up for gastric sarcoma and melanoma, initially misinterpreted as complicated haemorrhagic cysts and then histologically characterized as renal localizations of extragenital endometriosis.”