Neurogenic bladder is abnormal bladder function caused by a nerve problem. Unable to empty your bladder fully? Needing to urinate too often? Leaking bladder? Neurogenic bladder could be the cause.
Contact your doctor if you think you may have this condition. The sooner it is treated, the lower the chance of developing other serious conditions, such as a urinary tract infection.
What Causes Neurogenic Bladder?
Neurogenic bladder results from problems with the nerves carrying messages between the bladder and the brain. The nerve problems may be caused by:
- Spinal cord injury
- Tumors of the brain or spinal cord in the pelvic area
- Infection of the brain or spinal cord
- Medical conditions affecting the nerves, such as:
- Spina bifida
- Multiple sclerosis
Factors that increase your chance of developing neurogenic bladder include:
- Nerve or spinal cord conditions present since birth (such as spina bifida or spinal cord tumor)
Symptoms of Neurogenic Bladder
Symptoms of neurogenic bladder may include:
- Urinary incontinence
- Dribbling urine stream
- Straining during urination
- Inability to urinate (urinary retention)
- Overflow of urine from a full bladder
- Painful urination
Testing for Neurogenic Bladder
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be asked to keep a diary of how often you empty your bladder and other urinary habits. If your doctor thinks that your symptoms may be caused by a nerve problem, you may have some of the tests below. You may also be referred to an urologist for further evaluation and treatment.
Tests may include the following:
- Blood tests
- Bladder function tests
- Imaging tests of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder, such as:
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Treatment for Neurogenic Bladder
Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms by emptying your bladder regularly.
- Bladder training — setting a regular schedule to empty your bladder and drinking less fluid
- Exercises to strengthen muscles around the bladder that help control urine flow
- Painless electrical stimulation to help the function of bladder muscles
A thin tube, called a catheter, can be inserted to empty the bladder. You can learn to do this yourself or a trained healthcare professional may do it for you.
Surgery may be an option for severe cases when all other treatments fail. Surgical procedures include:
- Removing part of the muscle that holds the bladder closed, allowing urine to flow out into a collection tube attached to the penis (for men only)
- Inserting a tube into an opening in the abdomen, allowing urine to flow into a collection bag
- Using tissue from the bowel to make the bladder larger
- Replacing the bladder with a pouch made from sections of the bowel or other tissue
- Inserting a small tube-like device, called a stent, into the bladder neck to allow urine to flow out
While most cases of neurogenic bladder cannot be prevented, people with diabetes may be able to delay or avoid the problem by carefully controlling their blood sugar levels over the long-term. Also, wearing seat belts and avoiding activities that increase the risk of spinal cord injuries will prevent neurogenic bladder from this cause.
Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.