Neurogenic bladder is a problem with how the bladder works because of a nerve problem. Problems may include: Bladder empties too often.Incontinence—bladder empties at the wrong time.Urinary retention—unable to completely empty the urine.Urine leaks out of the overfilled bladder.
Bladder With Nerves, Female
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Neurogenic bladder is caused by damage or injury to the nerves carrying messages between the bladder and the brain. The nerve damage makes it difficult to coordinate when the bladder should empty.
Factors that increase the risk of neurogenic bladder include:
Birth defect that affects the spinal cord, such as
spina bifidaSpinal cord injuryTumors of the brain
or spinal cord in the pelvic area
Infection of the brain or spinal cord
Symptoms may include: Small amount of urineFrequent urinationDribbling urineInability to feel that the bladder is fullStraining during urinationInability to urinateOverflow of urine from a full bladderPainful urinationUrinary tract infectionKidney injury from urine backing up into the bladderKidney stones
These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. If your child has any of these symptoms, talk to the doctor.
Your doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. The doctor may ask you to keep a diary of how often your child empties his bladder and other urinary habits. The doctor may recommend tests to rule out other conditions: Urinalysis—test of the urine to look for evidence of infection or kidney problemsBlood tests—to look for evidence of kidney problemsBladder function tests—to measure how well the muscles of the bladder respond to filling and emptying
Tests may also be done to create images of the bladder and the rest of the urinary tract. Imaging tests may include: X-raysUltrasound
—to examine the kidneys, ureters, and/or bladder
Computed tomography (CT) scan
—to make detailed images of the kidneys, ureters, and/or bladder
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
—to create images of the brain and/or spinal cord
Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include the following:
The doctor may recommend that your child take antibiotics to prevent urinary tract infections.
Other medication may also be used to improve bladder function.
A thin tube, called a catheter, can be inserted to empty your child’s bladder. You can learn to do this for your child, or a trained healthcare professional may do it.
If other treatments fail, surgery may be an option. The exact type of surgery will depend on what is causing the problems. Some surgical options include enlarging the bladder or creating an artificial sphincter to control urine flow.
Most cases of neurogenic bladder cannot be prevented.
Last reviewed March 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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