What is cystitis cystica?

Cystitis cystica is a bladder condition in which a series of mucous cysts form in the bladder wall. A condition called glandular cystitis causes similar lesions, although it does not necessarily involve glandular tissue. If left untreated, cystitis cystica can lead to adenocarcinoma of the bladder as a result of cell changes. A urologist is usually involved in diagnosis and treatment.

People develop cystitis cystica as a result of chronic irritation and inflammation in the bladder. They may have a history of bladder infections, along with a problem such as urine stones, tumors, or other bladder irritants. Over time, the bladder reacts to the irritation by producing more mucus and eventually growing more mucus-producing cells. These cells proliferate, forming masses, and begin to grow into the bladder wall before rupturing and creating cysts. The cysts fill with mucus as they are lined by mucous cells.

Patients may notice symptoms such as pelvic pain, difficulty urinating, or changes in urine color. In some cases, cystitis cystica causes urinary obstruction and the patient can only pass urine with difficulty, if at all. The increasing irritation in the bladder will increase, causing the lesions to grow. Eventually, this condition can turn from benign to malignant, causing cancerous tumors to develop. These growths can spread beyond the bladder in metastatic bladder cancer.

To diagnose this condition, a doctor may take pictures of the bladder and may order an endoscopy to see what is going on inside the bladder, as well as collect a sample for biopsy. A pathologist can determine what types of cells are involved and provide information on how fast they are growing. After diagnosis, treatment may include medications to resolve inflammation and surgery to remove irritants such as stones. If the condition has progressed to an extreme stage, the urologist may recommend removing the entire bladder.

People who experience recurrent bladder infections may want to get a medical evaluation to find out why and see if the problem can be addressed, before they have a chance to progress to cystitis cystica. Pelvic pain and difficulty urinating must be treated quickly to avoid complications. If a patient is diagnosed with cystitis cystica, the doctor can provide information about available treatment options and prognosis with different options. Patients can also request a second option from another provider if they want a comprehensive view of the types of treatments they have access to.

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