You are here
Home > Blog > Family Practice Medicine > Spontaneous Bladder Rupture In Bladder Cancer Patients

Spontaneous Bladder Rupture In Bladder Cancer Patients

Spontaneous Bladder Rupture In Bladder Cancer Patients

Spontaneous rupture of the urinary bladder is an uncommon yet severe condition in which the bladder wall tears, occurring without any associated trauma or instrumentation. This means that the bladder, without any external force or medical procedure, experiences a tear or perforation. The rarity of this condition, coupled with its serious nature, makes it a challenging diagnosis. The symptoms associated with spontaneous bladder rupture are not always clear, complicating the identification of the condition.

Additionally, the imaging results may be inconclusive, further contributing to the difficulty in promptly diagnosing and addressing this medical issue. In essence, the combination of unclear symptoms, inconclusive imaging, and the infrequency of the condition creates a diagnostic challenge for healthcare professionals.

Common causes include bladder outlet obstruction, overdistention, inflammation, and infection. Factors like weakened bladder walls and neurogenic processes, often associated with diabetes, alcohol intoxication, and post-radiotherapy, contribute to the rupture. 

While spontaneous bladder rupture is typically linked to non-malignant causes, it can also be associated with malignancy, usually presenting in advanced stages with a poor prognosis. Despite several case reports on this topic, systematic reviews are lacking.

While spontaneous bladder rupture is commonly associated with non-malignant factors, such as trauma or other non-cancer-related issues, it’s important to note that it can also be linked to malignancy, specifically bladder cancer. 

When spontaneous bladder rupture occurs in the context of malignancy, it tends to manifest in the advanced stages of the cancer, leading to a generally unfavorable prognosis for the affected individuals. This suggests that the presence of malignancy might contribute to the severity of the bladder rupture and its outcomes.

Despite the existence of several case reports documenting instances of spontaneous bladder rupture associated with malignancy, there is a notable absence of systematic reviews on this specific topic. 

This gap in comprehensive reviews indicates a need for a more thorough and structured examination of the available evidence and cases related to spontaneous bladder rupture in the context of malignancy. Addressing this gap could provide valuable insights into the characteristics, outcomes, and potential interventions for cases where bladder rupture is associated with malignancy.


The researchers performed a systematic review, a comprehensive and structured analysis, with the specific aim of investigating the existing literature on spontaneous bladder rupture within the context of bladder cancer. To ensure a rigorous and transparent approach, they followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) framework. This framework is a set of guidelines designed to enhance the transparency and quality of systematic reviews.

To gather relevant data, the researchers conducted a thorough search for case reports and studies. They utilized reputable databases, including PubMed and EMBASE, known for housing a wealth of scientific and medical literature. This meticulous approach to identifying relevant information helps ensure that the systematic review is comprehensive, capturing a broad spectrum of evidence related to spontaneous bladder rupture in the context of bladder cancer.

The search took place in April 2023. The inclusion criteria encompassed all case reports or case series involving patients with spontaneous urinary bladder rupture during active bladder cancer, excluding postoperative cases—exclusions comprised articles not peer-reviewed and those published in languages other than English. Additionally, references of eligible review articles were surveyed for relevant cases. Two independent reviewers (J.H. and E.S.) screened articles for eligibility, with disagreements resolved by a third reviewer (H.R.).

The research also included specific information from a patient treated at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Woolloongabba, Australia. This particular patient had experienced spontaneous bladder rupture. Before including any details in the study, the researchers took the necessary step of obtaining informed consent from the patient. 

This consent ensured that the clinical and imaging information used in the study was de-identified, respecting the privacy and confidentiality of the individual involved. This ethical practice is essential in medical research to uphold patient rights and maintain the integrity of the study.

Data extraction focused on patient characteristics, including age, sex, presenting signs and symptoms, management modalities, tumor histology, and mortality. These characteristics were tallied, and descriptive statistics were calculated.


The initial search yielded 971 records, and after removing duplicates and screening articles, 30 cases were included, including our case report.

Of the included cases, 17 (57%) were male, and 13 (33%) were female, with a median age of 59 (see Table 1). The majority of patients (73%) were diagnosed with an acute abdomen, with abdominal pain and peritonism being the most common presenting symptoms. Other notable features included haematuria, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal distension. Laparotomy was performed in 23 patients (77%), and catheterization was noted in 23 cases (77%). During the initial work-up, 11 patients (37%) underwent a CT scan, but only seven showed suggestive evidence of bladder perforation. 

Among the cases, 16 patients (53%) had urothelial cell carcinomas (UCCs) of the bladder, 10 (33%) had squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), three were unspecified (10%), and one had a myofibroblastic tumor. Thirty percent of the patients died during their hospitalization. Among those who died, three were due to complications of UCC, four were due to SCC, and two were unspecified. Additionally, five patients (17%) died within 180 days of their initial presentation.

Final Thoughts 

Bladder rupture poses a potential threat to life and is commonly associated with factors like blunt or penetrating trauma, catheterization, and anatomical outflow obstruction, leading to a distended bladder. Additionally, it may result from prior bladder surgeries, including procedures like cystoscopy or bladder resection. Distinguishing between routine and spontaneous bladder rupture can be challenging. Spontaneous rupture is typically characterized by its origin without trauma, surgery, or instrumentation.

Various factors contribute to spontaneous bladder rupture, including a decrease in bladder wall integrity (such as from pelvic radiation), neurogenic mechanisms impairing awareness of bladder filling, and the urge to void (e.g., diabetes mellitus, alcohol intoxication, or spinal cord injury), and increased intraperitoneal pressure (such as during childbirth). 

In the context of bladder carcinoma, the malignancy diminishes the muscle wall’s integrity, though spontaneous bladder rupture as a secondary effect is exceptionally rare. Its occurrence signals delayed presentation and diagnosis, often associated with advanced disease and a grim prognosis.

Spontaneous bladder perforation associated with bladder cancer is a rare yet easily underestimated cause of acute abdomen. The symptoms are nonspecific, investigations may yield ambiguous results, and the mortality rate is notably high. When patients present with peritonitic abdominal pain, clinicians should keep this diagnosis in mind. A heightened suspicion is crucial, particularly when there’s a history of preceding haematuria and urinary symptoms, especially in the absence of other pathologies during laparotomy. Patients facing this diagnosis experience increased mortality, underscoring the aggressive nature of the disease. This raises significant questions about the role of emergency cystectomy, the timing of systemic therapy, and appropriate palliative care. 

Oncology Related Tools


Latest Research

Spontaneous Bladder Rupture

About Author

Similar Articles

Leave a Reply