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What is Anuria?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Anuria is a lack of urine production or the inability to pass anything more than a very small amount of urine. This is a very serious medical symptom, and immediate treatment is needed to prevent complications. Causes can include kidney failure and kidney stones, and treatment options can include dialysis, surgery, and medications, depending on what is causing the anuria. Follow-up care is usually needed to confirm the success of treatment and provide the patient with tips on preventing future episodes.

When people experience this condition, they may feel an urge to urinate and be unable to do so. The abdomen can feel tender and swollen, and if urine can be passed, it may be cloudy or bloody. In cases where the kidneys are not producing urine, patients may start to experience symptoms associated with buildups of compounds in the blood, because the body cannot eliminate them by urinating.

Acute urinary tract infections can cause anuria if they are not treated in a timely fashion, as a result of inflammation and the collection of debris in the bladder or urinary tract. Other potential causes are tumors or stones blocking the urinary tract. In these cases, small amounts of bloody urine are common as the urinary tract struggles to pass at least some urine. The bladder can also appear swollen as a result of a backup of urine.

Kidney problems can also be associated with this condition. Kidney stones may block the ducts used to conduct urine to the bladder, or the kidneys can go into failure and stop producing urine or produce only limited amounts. Patients are usually very ill and in pain as a result of the kidney failure, and the anuria will be one among a constellation of symptoms.

Diagnostic steps to learn more about anuria can include an attempt to collect a urine sample using a syringe directed into the bladder, along with medical imaging of the bladder and kidneys. A quick ultrasound or x-ray can show blockages like stones and tumors and may also reveal signs of inflammation like thickening of the bladder wall. Once the cause has been determined, the doctor can discuss treatment options with the patient. In an emergency where urine is rapidly building up, the patient may be fitted with a urinary catheter to drain the bladder before it ruptures, buying time for more substantive treatment to address the blockage causing the buildup in the first place.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anoopps — On Jun 13, 2013

My mother has been a PD patient for two and half years. At her last monthly checkup, the doctor told me that she is having anuric issues and needs a transplant. I want to know are there any methods other than kidney transplant to cure her anuric problem?

By cloudel — On Jan 29, 2012

@wavy58 – Since your grandmother is on peritoneal dialysis, she is more likely to maintain her ability to urinate. People who are on hemodialysis are at a greater risk of developing anuria.

My aunt had a genetic kidney disease that eventually led to kidney failure. Her kidneys could no longer filter out wastes and sodium on their own, so she had to have the help of a machine. Since hers was an advanced case, peritoneal dialysis was not an option.

She can no longer urinate on her own. It is sad to say, but I doubt she will live long enough to get a transplant. However, your grandmother has a much better chance than my aunt.

By wavy58 — On Jan 28, 2012

Do all people who have chronic kidney disease symptoms eventually lose their ability to urinate? I have heard of this happening in some people with CKD, but my grandmother has kidney problems, and she is still able to urinate on her own.

She has been on dialysis for a year now, and she is on a transplant list. No one in our family is a match, so all she can do is wait.

She is undergoing peritoneal dialysis, which is where a fluid flows in and out of her abdominal blood vessels to filter out the toxins that kidneys normally would eliminate. I have heard that anuria is a sign of severe kidney failure, and I hope she never experiences this.

By kylee07drg — On Jan 27, 2012

I have a friend who frequently gets kidney stones. She always knows that she has them when she suddenly stops being able to urinate.

It is a scary feeling, and I can only imagine what that must feel like. I have to urinate once every hour, and if something were to keep that from happening, I would become very uncomfortable fast.

She has to go to the hospital when she experiences anuria. They put a catheter in her to drain her bladder and to help her pass the stones. Often, the stones are so large that they have to be broken up with a laser before she can pass them, and she has to wear the catheter until all the pieces have come out of her body.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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