Open Journal of Urology, 2011, 1, 86-88
doi:10.4236/oju.2011.14018 Published Online November 2011 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/oju)
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OJU
Xanthogranulomatous Cystitis Presenting as Urinary
Incontinence and a Vesicovaginal Fistula:
A Case Report and Review of the Literature
Shivon N. Abdullah, Adamantios M. Mellis, Corinne L. Puzio, Daniel J. Culkin*
Department of Urology, University of Oklah om a Health Sciences Cent er , Okl a ho m a Ci t y, USA
Received June 7, 2011; revised July 15, 2011; ac cepted Ju ly 28, 2011
Anthogranulomatous cystitis (XC) is an inflammatory condition of the urinary bladder that is benign and
rarely seen. XC is a unique disease in which there have been only 26 cases described in the literature, in-
cluding our case. Patients with XC often present with lower urinary tract symptoms, hematuria, abdominal
pain, or abdominal mass. We present the unusual case of an 81 year old female who presents with urinary
incontinence, which was later diagnosed as a vesicovaginal fistula. After describing the treatment of this pa-
tient, a review of the literature is detailed including presentation, possible etiologies, and treatment of XC.
Keywords: Xanthogranulomatous Cystitis, Inflammation, Bladder, Vesicovaginal Fistula, Urinary
Xanthogranulomatous cystitis is an uncommon but be-
nign inflammatory condition of the bladder that is chronic
in duration for which the etiology is unknown . XC
was first described by Ota in 1933. Histologically, the
disease is characterized by multinucleated giant cells and
chronic inflammation. The characteristic cell is the
lipid-laden macrophages, known as “foamy histiocytes,”
which stain strongly for CD 68. Although the kidney is
the most common site of xanthogranulomatous disease,
there are currently twenty-five previously described
cases of this disease reported in the bladder . Most of
these cases involve urachal remnants with disease most
often isolated to the dome of the bladder . We add our
case of XC in an 81 year old female with the unusual
initial presentation of urinary incontinence and vesico-
vaginal fistula (VVF) and provide a brief review of the
2. Case Report
An 81 year old Caucasian female of German descent was
referred to clinic with primary complaint of continuous
urinary incontinence which had persisted for several
months and believed to be secondary to stress urinary
incontinence. The patient also had symptoms of urinary
frequency and intermittent gross hematuria. However,
the patient denied having any urinary tract infections.
She also reported a significant unintentional weight loss
in the past year. Past medical history included hyperten-
sion, diabetes mellitus type II, as well as dyslipidemia.
On physical examination, the patient was found to
have a large tumor involving the anterior vaginal wall
with pooling of urine in the vaginal vault, suspicious for
a vesicovaginal fistula. Laboratory analysis revealed nor-
mal renal function, absen ce of hematolo gic abnormalities,
including eosinophilia. Urinalysis and urine culture fai-
led to show to urinary tract infection. Con trast computed
tomography with urogram phase revealed a midline pos-
terior bladder wall lesion and a 4 mm communication
between the posterior bladder wall and the anterior vagi-
nal wall (Figures 1 and 2).
Cystoscopy was performed identifying significant
amount of bullous edema as well as a bulky solid lobu-
lated mass approximately 2 cm in size in the area of the
left posterior bladder neck extending to the trigone of the
bladder. A midline vesicovaginal fistula was identified in
the posterior bladder wall. The lateral walls of the blad-
der, as well as the dome of the bladder were free of
masses or inflammation. Due to concern for malignancy,
endoscopic biopsy and resection were performed of the
S. N. ABDULLAH ET AL.
Figure 1. Contrast CT of the pelvis demonstrates a discer-
nable mass in the area of the bladder trigone extending into
the anterior vaginal wall.
Figure 2. Delayed phase contrast CT of the pelvis demon-
strates vesicovaginal fistula with presence of contrast within
the vaginal vault.
bladder neck lesion. Vaginoscopy was also performed
with biopsies of the anterior vaginal wall and fistulous
tract also obtained. Histologic analysis revealed numer-
ous foamy histiocytes. Immunohistochemical staining de-
monstrated positive staining for CD68 (Figure 3) a kno-
wn marker fo r macrophages.
The patient was treated conservatively with oral anti-
biotics for five months with resulting decrease in in-
flammation; however, urinary incontinence persisted. As
a result, the patient elected to undergo vesicovaginal fis-
tula repair. Intraoperatively, attempted vaginal vesico-
vaginal fistula repair was halted due to extensive fibrosis
at the bladder neck and trigone of the bladder. Then an
abdominal approach to VVF repair was approached.
However, the right ureteral orifice was unable to be can-
nulated, and, on further exploration, the patient was
found to have right hydroureteronephrosis. Furthermore,
extensive fibrosis was present in the pelvis, the bladder
neck and trigone, making vaginal and suprapubic VVF
repair not possible.
Figure 3. CD68 immunohistochemical staining demonstra-
ting numerous characteristic “foamy histiocytes” and mul-
tinucleated giant cells in the submucosa of the bladder
(CD68 immunostain ×400).
With those surgical findings and taking the patient’s
primary complaint of incontinence into consideration, the
decision was made that the patient would best benefit
from a urinary diversion procedure. An ileal conduit uri-
nary diversion was performed. The patient was dis-
charged after five days in the hospital, and now, more
than 3 years later, she is asymptomatic and is pleased
with her continence.
Xanthogranulomatous cystitis is a rare disease entity and
only 26 cases have been reported and described, include-
ing this case. XC’s etiology is unknown. Some authors
have proposed chronic irritation and inflammation of a
urachal remnant , autoimmune etiology as demon-
strated by eosinophilia , as well as chronic urinary
tract infections and anaerobic infections . Regardless
of the true etiology, the ag es of patients afflicted with the
disease range from 16-80 years of age, and include both
males and females in equal distribution . Patients
typically present with lower urinary tract symptoms 60%
(15/25) of the time and symptoms include frequency,
urgency, as well as nocturia. Hematuria (microscopic or
gross) is present in ab out a quarter of the patients (6 /25),
whereas abdominal or pelvic pain is present in 40%
(12/25) of patients. Moreover, an abdominal or pelvic
mass is identified in 40% (1 2/25) of patien ts [3-9]. Table
1 provides a summary of these statistics.
When the location of the disease was provided in the
case reports, the majority of cases involved the bladder
dome and was associated with an urachal remnant or
anomaly: 80% (16/20) and 56% (14/25), respectively.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OJU
S. N. ABDULLAH ET AL.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OJU
Table 1. Symptoms seen in patients affected by xanthogra-
nulomatous cystitis [4,5].
Symptoms Percentage (%)
LUTS 60 (15/25)
Hematuria (gr oss a nd microscopic) 24 (6/25)
Pain (abdominal and pelvic) 40 (12/25)
Mass (abdominal and pelvic) 40 (12/25)
Urachal Remnant Involved 56 (14/25)
Other areas reported to be involved include the posterior
wall (1 case), lateral walls (2 cases), and the anterior wall
The treatment modality most often employed in cases
of XC is partial cystectomy, as is the case in 18 out of 25
cases reported (72%). Other XC cases have been suc-
cessfully managed with surgical or endoscopic resection
and recurrences have never been reported, even 15 years
after initial resection . Other treatment modalities that
have also been curative are long-course antibiotics and
radical cystectomy [8-9].
Our case is rather unique in that our patient is the old-
est patient (81 years old) reported to be diagnosed with
XC. Furthermore, the patient possesses a unique presen-
tation of XC. This is the first case of XC that has pre-
sented as urinary incontinence, which was diagnosed as a
vesicovaginal fistula. Furthermore, our patient is the first
patient where the disease has involved the bladder
trigone and the bladder neck. Management of this patient
is also distinctive, given her unusual case. The patient’s
XC was primarily treated with long term antibiotics,
while her secondary problem was treated with urinary
diversion with both modalities resulting in successful
treatment of a complicated disease process. As in other
cases, our patient has remained asymptomatic. Although
resection was not undertaken, chronic antibiotic treat-
ment seemed to have decreased the inflammation caused
by the disease, supporting the case for possible bacterial
infection as a contributing etiology .
In conclusion, xanthogranulomatous cystitis is a rare
disease that manifests in a variety of ways, including in
our case, as chronic bladder inflammation leading to de-
velopment of a vesicovaginal fistula.
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