Artificial urinary bladder
An artificial urinary bladder is an artificial
Artificial organ
An artificial organ is a man-made device that is implanted or integrated into a human to replace a natural organ, for the purpose of restoring a specific function or a group of related functions so the patient may return to as normal a life as possible...

Organ (anatomy)
In biology, an organ is a collection of tissues joined in structural unit to serve a common function. Usually there is a main tissue and sporadic tissues . The main tissue is the one that is unique for the specific organ. For example, main tissue in the heart is the myocardium, while sporadic are...

 to replace a urinary bladder
Urinary bladder
The urinary bladder is the organ that collects urine excreted by the kidneys before disposal by urination. A hollow muscular, and distensible organ, the bladder sits on the pelvic floor...


On April 4, 2006, it was announced that a team of biologists at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine
Wake Forest University School of Medicine
The Wake Forest School of Medicine is the medical school of Wake Forest University, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It is affiliated with North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Physicians, forming part of the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center system...

, led by Professor Anthony Atala
Anthony Atala
Anthony Atala, M.D., is the W.H. Boyce Professor and Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and Chair of the Department of Urology at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina...

, had created the world's first lab-grown organ, a bladder, and transplanted
Organ transplant
Organ transplantation is the moving of an organ from one body to another or from a donor site on the patient's own body, for the purpose of replacing the recipient's damaged or absent organ. The emerging field of regenerative medicine is allowing scientists and engineers to create organs to be...

 it into a human. Seven people between the ages four and 19, received transplants. The bladders were grown from a small sample of the patients' own bladder tissue
Biological tissue
Tissue is a cellular organizational level intermediate between cells and a complete organism. A tissue is an ensemble of cells, not necessarily identical, but from the same origin, that together carry out a specific function. These are called tissues because of their identical functioning...

, so there was no risk of transplant rejection
Transplant rejection
Transplant rejection occurs when transplanted tissue is rejected by the recipient's immune system, which destroys the transplanted tissue. Transplant rejection can be lessened by determining the molecular similitude between donor and recipient and by use of immunosuppressant drugs after...

. Traditionally, damaged urinary bladder
Urinary bladder
The urinary bladder is the organ that collects urine excreted by the kidneys before disposal by urination. A hollow muscular, and distensible organ, the bladder sits on the pelvic floor...

s are stitched back together using other tissue from the stomach or intestine. Patients with bladders made of intestinal tissues suffer unpleasant side-effects because intestinal tissues reabsorb chemicals that are meant to be eliminated through the urine.


On January 30, 1999, scientists announced that a lab-grown bladder had been successfully transplanted into dogs. These artificial bladders worked well for almost a year in the dogs. In 2000, a new procedure for creating artificial bladders for humans was developed. This procedure is called an orthotopic neobladder procedure. This procedure involves shaping a part (usually 35 to 40 inches) of a patient's small intestine
Small intestine
The small intestine is the part of the gastrointestinal tract following the stomach and followed by the large intestine, and is where much of the digestion and absorption of food takes place. In invertebrates such as worms, the terms "gastrointestinal tract" and "large intestine" are often used to...

 to form a new bladder, however, as explained above, these bladders made of intestinal tissues produced unpleasant side-effects.


First a CT scan
Computed tomography
X-ray computed tomography or Computer tomography , is a medical imaging method employing tomography created by computer processing...

 of the patient is taken, to determine the shape of the bladder that must be created.
Next a tissue sample is taken from the patient's bladder. These cells are grown (this part of the process usually takes 7–8 weeks), and then layered onto a biodegradable
Biodegradation or biotic degradation or biotic decomposition is the chemical dissolution of materials by bacteria or other biological means...

Scaffolding is a temporary structure used to support people and material in the construction or repair of buildings and other large structures. It is usually a modular system of metal pipes or tubes, although it can be from other materials...

" in the shape that the required bladder is to take. Finally, the transplant procedure takes place. The entire bladder along with the biodegradable scaffold is transplanted. Over time, the biodegradable scaffold will degrade within the patient's body.

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