The exstrophy experience: A national survey assessing urinary continence, bladder management, and oncologic outcomes in adults

Published:November 16, 2022DOI:


      Introduction and Objective

      The bladder exstrophy–epispadias complex (BEEC) is a rare spectrum of congenital genitourinary malformations with an incidence of 1:10,000 to 1:50,000. Advances in reconstructive surgical techniques have improved clinical outcomes, but there is a paucity in data about disease sequela in adulthood. This is the largest survey to date in the United States exploring the urinary continence, bladder management, and oncologic outcomes in adults with BEEC.


      Respondents were over the age of 18 with a diagnosis of bladder exstrophy, cloacal exstrophy, or epispadias. They were treated at the authors’ institution, included in the Association for the Bladder Exstrophy Community (A-BE-C) mailing list, and/or engaged in A-BE-C social media. A survey was created using uniquely designed questions and questionnaires. Survey responses between May 2020 and July 2020 were processed using Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap). Quantitative and qualitative statistics were used to analyze the data with significance at p < 0.05.


      A total of 165 patients completed the survey. The median age was 31.5 years (IQR 25.9–45.9). Many patients considered themselves continent of urine, with a median satisfaction score of 74 (IQR 50–97) on a scale from 0 (consider themselves to be completely incontinent) to 100 (consider themselves to be completely continent). There was less leakage among those with a continent urinary diversion compared to those who void or catheterize per urethra (p = 0.003). Patients with intestinal-urinary tract reconstruction, such as augmentation cystoplasty or neobladder creation, were more likely to perform bladder irrigations (p = 0.03). Patients with continent channels were more likely to report UTI than all other forms of bladder management (89.0% vs. 66.2%, p = 0.003). Three (1.9%) patients were diagnosed with bladder cancer. A small portion of patients (27.2%) were given bladder cancer surveillance recommendations by a physician.


      Most patients achieved a satisfactory level of urinary continence, with the highest continence rates in those with a continent urinary diversion. Those with intestinal-urinary tract reconstruction were more likely to perform bladder irrigations, perhaps to avoid complications from intestinal mucous production. The rates of self-reported UTI and were higher in patients with continent channels, but recurrent UTIs were not affected by the type of genitourinary reconstruction. Bladder cancer exists in this population, highlighting the need for long-term follow-up.


      Summary Figure
      Graphical AbstractPatient-reported satisfaction with urinary continence on a scale from 0 to 100.


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