TECHNIQUE

Manual Bladder Expression of Rabbits (Disease Investigation & Management - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords
Description Note: Techniques used in wild lagomorphs
  • While most veterinary procedures described for use in domestic rabbits can also be used in wild lagomorphs, it is much more likely that sedation or anaesthesia will be required to carry out such procedures in these animals.
Manual bladder expression
Gentle expression of the bladder can be performed to collect a urine sample. (B600.3.w3, B601.2.w2, J213.9.w1)
  • Caution: 
    • Care must be taken to avoid rupturing the thin-walled bladder particularly as urethral obstruction may be present in rabbits that present with stranguria or haematuria. (B600.3.w3, B601.2.w2, J213.9.w1) However, in cases of chronic cystitis, the bladder wall is usually thickened making it less susceptible to rupture. (B600.3.w3)
    • If the rabbit does not urinate during manual expression, be ready to collect a voided sample because many rabbits in this situation will urinate soon after being being returned to their cage or placed on the floor. (B601.2.w2)
  • Technique:
    • Identify the bladder in the caudal abdomen by palpation. (B601.2.w2)
    • Apply pressure to either side of the bladder and gradually increase pressure until the urine is voided. (B601.2.w2)
    • Collect the urine in a sterile universal container. (B601.2.w2)
Appropriate Use (?)
  • Collection of urine for urinalysis. (J213.9.w1)
    • Urinalysis is a useful diagnostic tool in the investigation of many rabbit illnesses. (B601.2.w2, B602.14.w14)

Different urine collection techniques are appropriate for different individuals and purposes.

Manual bladder expression
  • This technique can be used in the conscious animal.
  • Quick and easy method in calm animals.
Notes
  • Disposal of used equipment
    • Used disposable equipment needs to be put into the appropriate clinical waste container.
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • In wild lagomorphs
    • While most veterinary procedures described for use in domestic rabbits can also be used in wild lagomorphs, it is much more likely that sedation will be required to carry out such procedures in wild lagomorphs.
  • Urinalysis
    • This can sometimes be difficult in the rabbit because there may be a heavy but normal pigment or mineral content of the urine. (B602.14.w14)

Note: Different urine collection techniques have different limitations and risks to their use.

Manual expression of the bladder
  • Artefactural blood present in the sample. (B601.4.w4)
  • Urination during bladder palpation
    • Rabbits with cystitis or urolithiasis will often urinate when the bladder is initially palpated so it is wise to have a suitable container handy ready for urine collection. (B600.3.w3)
  • Failure to urinate during the procedure
    • If the rabbit does not urinate during manual expression, be ready to collect a voided sample because many rabbits in this situation will urinate soon after being being returned to their cage or placed on the floor. (B601.2.w2)
  • Overdistended bladder
    • Urinary catheterisation should be performed as an alternative to cystocentesis if the bladder is overdistended. (B601.2.w2)
  • Bladder rupture
    • Care must be taken to avoid rupturing the thin-walled bladder during manual expression particularly as urethral obstruction may be present in rabbits that present with stranguria or haematuria. (B600.3.w3, B601.2.w2, J29.16.w6, J213.9.w1)
    • Rupture is more likely if the rabbit struggles during the procedure. (J29.16.w6)
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • A sterile universal container for the urine sample.
Expertise level / Ease of Use This procedure should only be carried out by an individual with appropriate clinical training and practical experience.
Cost / Availability
  • Cost of equipment/consumables for in-house testing, or cost of external laboratory fees.
Legal and Ethical Considerations In some countries there may be legislation restricting the use of this type of technique to licensed veterinarians. For example in the UK: "The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Section 19) provides, subject to a number of exceptions, that only registered members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons may practice veterinary surgery." (see: LCofC1 - RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Treatment of Animals by Non-Veterinary Surgeons).
Author Nikki Fox BVSc MRCVS (V.w103)
Referee Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5); Frances Harcourt-Brown BVSc FRCVS (V.w140)
References B600.3.w3, B601.2.w2, B601.4.w4, B602.14.w14, B604.3.w3, J29.16.w6, J213.9.w1

Return to Top of Page