Cystitis differential diagnosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Maliha Shakil, M.D. [2], Usama Talib, BSc, MD [3]


Cystitis must be differentiated from other causes of dysuria such as acute pyelonephritis, urethritis, prostatitis, vulvovaginitis, urethral strictures or diverticula, benign prostatic hyperplasia and neoplasms such as renal cell carcinoma and cancers of the bladder, prostate, and penis. It must also be differentiated from sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis.[1][2][3]

Differential Diagnosis

Diseases Symptoms Signs Diagnosis Other Features
Abdominal pain Bowel habits Rebound tenderness Guarding Genitourinary signs Lab findings Imaging
GI diseases Colorectal cancer LLQ Constipation - - - CT scan, x-ray and MRI used to show metastasis
Inflammatory bowel disease LLQ Bloody diarrhea - - -
  • Leukocytosis
Colonoscopy and tissue sampling are recommended for differentiating between Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Diverticulitis LLQ Constipation



- + + CT scan shows evidence of inflammation
Appendicitis LLQ / RRQ Constipation + + - Ultrasound shows evidence of inflammation Nausea & vomiting,decreased appetite
Strangulated hernia LLQ - - - -
  • No specific tests
  • CT scan used to detect the hernia and to show if it is single or multiple
Gentiourinary diseases Cystitis LLQ - + -
  • Suprapubic tenderness
  • X ray is done to probe the suspicion of emphysematous cystitis.
  • CT scan shows gas in the bladder in cases of emphysematous cystitis.
Prostatitis LLQ

Groin pain

- - -
  • Tender and enlarged
Pelvic inflammatory disease Bilateral - + -
  • Purulent vaginal discharge
Transvaginal utrasonography
Gynecological diseases Endometritis LLQ - + - +
  • No specific tests
  • Ultrasound is helpful to rule out other differential diagnosis such as pelvic abscess, thrombosis and masses
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding
Salpingitis LLQ/ RLQ +/- +/-
  • Leukocytosis
Pelvic ultrasound
  • Vaginal discharge
  • The differential diagnoses of Cystitis include:[2][3][10]

Cystitis must also be differentiated from sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis.[1]

Cystitis can be differentiated from other diseases that cause lower urinary tract irritation symptoms, such as: dysuria, urgency and frequency in addition to urethral dyscharge , the differential list include: urethritis, cervicitis, vulvovaginitis, epididimitis, prostatitis , and syphilis.[3][11][12][13]

Disease Findings
Cystitis Bladder inflammation, Features with increased frequency and urgency, dysuria, and suprapubic pain. Is more common among women. E.coli is the most common pathogen[14][15][16][17].
Urethritis infection of the urethra,causes dysuria and urethral discharge[12][18][19]
Bacterial vulvovaginitis Presents with dysuria and pruritus, Vaginal discharge and odor are almost always present, caused by Gardnerella species[20].
Cervicitis Often asymptomatic,some women have an abnormal vaginal discharge and vaginal bleeding (especially after sexual intercourse)[21]
Prostatitis bacterial infection of the prostate,causes discomfort during ejaculation[22]
Epididymitis Presents with scrotal pain and swelling accompanied by fever and lower urinary tract irritation symptoms(dysuria and frequency)[23].
Syphilis Presents with generalized systemic symptoms such as malaise, fatigue, headache and fever. Skin eruptions may be subtle and asymptomatic. It is classically described as 1) non-pruritic bilateral symmetrical mucocutaneous rash; 2) non-tender regional lymphadenopathy; 3) condylomata lata; and 4) patchy alopecia.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Workowski, KA.; Berman, S.; Workowski, KA.; Bauer, H.; Bachman, L.; Burstein, G.; Eckert, L.; Geisler, WM.; Ghanem, K. (2010). "Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2010". MMWR Recomm Rep. 59 (RR-12): 1–110. PMID 21160459. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bremnor JD, Sadovsky R (2002). "Evaluation of dysuria in adults". Am Fam Physician. 65 (8): 1589–96. PMID 11989635.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Kurowski K (1998). "The woman with dysuria". Am Fam Physician. 57 (9): 2155–64, 2169–70. PMID 9606306.
  4. Laurell H, Hansson LE, Gunnarsson U (2007). "Acute diverticulitis--clinical presentation and differential diagnostics". Colorectal Dis. 9 (6): 496–501, discussion 501-2. doi:10.1111/j.1463-1318.2006.01162.x. PMID 17573742.
  5. Hardin, M. Acute Appendicitis: Review and Update. Am Fam Physician".1999, Nov 1;60(7):2027-2034
  6. Hanauer SB (1996). "Inflammatory bowel disease". N Engl J Med. 334 (13): 841–8. doi:10.1056/NEJM199603283341307. PMID 8596552.
  7. Cystitis-acute. MedlinePlus. Accessed on February 9, 2016
  8. Prostatitis - bacterial. NLM Medline Plus 2016. Accessed on March 2, 2016
  9. Ford GW, Decker CF (2016). "Pelvic inflammatory disease". Dis Mon. 62 (8): 301–5. doi:10.1016/j.disamonth.2016.03.015. PMID 27107781.
  10. IMMERGUT S, COTTLER ZR (1950). "Mucin producing adenocarcinoma of the bladder associated with cystitis follicularis and glandularis". Urol Cutaneous Rev. 54 (9): 531–4. PMID 15443228.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Moore, Zack S; Seward, Jane F; Lane, J Michael (2006). "Smallpox". The Lancet. 367 (9508): 425–435. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68143-9. ISSN 0140-6736.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Taylor-Robinson D (1996). "The history of nongonococcal urethritis. Thomas Parran Award Lecture". Sex Transm Dis. 23 (1): 86–91. PMID 8801649.
  13. Bennett, John (2015). Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's principles and practice of infectious diseases. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier/Saunders. ISBN 9781455748013.
  14. Stephen Bent, Brahmajee K. Nallamothu, David L. Simel, Stephan D. Fihn & Sanjay Saint (2002). "Does this woman have an acute uncomplicated urinary tract infection?". JAMA. 287 (20): 2701–2710. PMID 12020306. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  15. W. E. Stamm (1981). "Etiology and management of the acute urethral syndrome". Sexually transmitted diseases. 8 (3): 235–238. PMID 7292216. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  16. W. E. Stamm, K. F. Wagner, R. Amsel, E. R. Alexander, M. Turck, G. W. Counts & K. K. Holmes (1980). "Causes of the acute urethral syndrome in women". The New England journal of medicine. 303 (8): 409–415. doi:10.1056/NEJM198008213030801. PMID 6993946. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  17. Leonie G. M. Giesen, Grainne Cousins, Borislav D. Dimitrov, Floris A. van de Laar & Tom Fahey (2010). "Predicting acute uncomplicated urinary tract infection in women: a systematic review of the diagnostic accuracy of symptoms and signs". BMC family practice. 11: 78. doi:10.1186/1471-2296-11-78. PMID 20969801.
  18. Bennett, John (2015). Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's principles and practice of infectious diseases. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier/Saunders. ISBN 9781455748013.
  19. Brill JR (2010). "Diagnosis and treatment of urethritis in men". Am Fam Physician. 81 (7): 873–8. PMID 20353145.
  20. Daniel V. Landers, Harold C. Wiesenfeld, R. Phillip Heine, Marijane A. Krohn & Sharon L. Hillier (2004). "Predictive value of the clinical diagnosis of lower genital tract infection in women". American journal of obstetrics and gynecology. 190 (4): 1004–1010. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2004.02.015. PMID 15118630. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  21. Kimberly A. Workowski & Gail A. Bolan (2015). "Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2015". MMWR. Recommendations and reports : Morbidity and mortality weekly report. Recommendations and reports / Centers for Disease Control. 64 (RR-03): 1–137. PMID 26042815. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  22. Felix Millan-Rodriguez, J. Palou, Anna Bujons-Tur, Mireia Musquera-Felip, Carlota Sevilla-Cecilia, Marc Serrallach-Orejas, Carlos Baez-Angles & Humberto Villavicencio-Mavrich (2006). "Acute bacterial prostatitis: two different sub-categories according to a previous manipulation of the lower urinary tract". World journal of urology. 24 (1): 45–50. doi:10.1007/s00345-005-0040-4. PMID 16437219. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  23. A. Stewart, S. S. Ubee & H. Davies (2011). "Epididymo-orchitis". BMJ (Clinical research ed.). 342: d1543. PMID 21490048.

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