Decompressive cystocentesis for treatment of feline urethral obstruction


This study aims to determine whether cystocentesis helps to increase the ease of passing a urinary catheter, and thereby trauma to the urethra.


Urethral obstruction is a common emergency situation for domestic male cats. Performing a cystocentesis (using a needle to directly remove urine from the urinary bladder) can aid in initial stabilization and may improve likelihood of successful catheterization. As such, cystocentesis currently part of the standard of care for the treatment of urethral obstruction at the Ohio State University. However, the benefits of cystocentesis have not been definitively proven and may carry some risk of damage to the bladder and leakage of urine or bleeding. A recent study has shown that this risk appears to be extremely low (0 cases in 46 enrolled). The results of this study will help veterinarians determine the safest, most effective treatment protocol for feline urethral obstruction, particularly whether decompressive cystocentesis should be performed prior to urethral catheterization.

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Feline with urethral obstruction

Study Design:

Your cat will be randomly assigned once enrolled to either have a cystocentesis performed or not, and then grading the difficulty of passing the urinary catheter. In addition, an abdominal ultrasound will be performed at the time of presentation and 15 minutes after cystocentesis is performed, and again 4 hours later determine if any urine leakage from the bladder occurs. If fluid is found, a sample will be obtained by inserting a needle into the abdomen (abdominocentesis) under ultrasound guidance and analyzed to determine the type of fluid present (blood or urine).

Client Cost:

Owners are responsible for all costs associated with the treatment of the urethral obstruction including the emergency fee, hospitalization, treatment, medications, blood work and radiographs.

Client Compensation:

The ultrasound will be at no cost to the owner.


Edward Cooper, VMD, MS, DACVECC
Associate Professor – Clinical
Small animal Emergency and Critical Care
cooper [dot] 1697 [at] osu [dot] edu