Content Reviewers:Rishi Desai, MD, MPH
Bladder exstrophy is a congenital abnormality that results in an “inside-out” bladder, where the bladder protrudes out of the abdomen, leaving the inside of the bladder exposed to the outside environment.
Normally, in the first trimester, endoderm in the hindgut expands to form the cloaca, which is a temporary structure that connects the urinary, digestive, and reproductive tracts. Separately, the ectoderm forms the anterior abdominal wall.
At around eight weeks of development three important things happen. First, the anterior abdominal wall matures and forms the muscles and connective tissue of the lower abdomen.
All right, so bladder exstrophy occurs when the developing bladder and urethra herniate anteriorly and this causes some problems. First, it prevents the normal development of the lower abdominal wall which leaves it open.
One way to kind of think about the final result is to imagine the bladder and urethra, and making a cut through the top of the urethra and bladder, and also imagine that cut goes up through the symphysis pubis as well as the abdominal wall.
After that, imagine pushing on the bladder from the bottom until it’s inside out, and this is essentially is what the final defect in bladder exstrophy looks like, and that bladder pushes through the abdominal wall into the outside world.
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