Neurogenic bladder is abnormal bladder function caused by a nerve problem. The bladder may empty too often or at the wrong time. This is called incontinence. In other cases, the bladder may be unable to completely empty the urine. This is called urinary retention. Urine may leak out of the overfilled bladder.
This condition is caused by problems with the nerves carrying messages between the bladder and the brain. In children, neurogenic bladder may be due to a birth defect that affects the spinal cord, such as spina bifida. It may be caused by:
Risk factors include:
Symptoms may include:
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. If the doctor thinks that the symptoms may be caused by a nerve problem, your child may need tests, such as:
Sometimes imaging tests may also be done, like:
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.
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. For example, surgery may be needed to enlarge the bladder or to create an artificial sphincter.
Most cases of neurogenic bladder cannot be prevented. You can help your child avoid spinal cord injuries by taking certain precautions, like wearing a seat belt in the car.
National Association for Continence
BC Health Guide
Canadian/American Spinal Research Organization
Children’s Hospital Boston. Neurogenic bladder. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at: http://www.childre... . Accessed July 12, 2010.
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Neurogenic bladder. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin website. Available at: http://www.chw.org/display/PPF/DocID/22629/router.asp . Accessed July 12, 2010.
LaRusso L. Neurogenic bladder. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated July 9, 2010. Accessed July 12, 2010.
Strayer D. Neurogenic bladder. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/pointOfCare/nrc-about . Updated November 11, 2008. Accessed July 12, 2010.
Last reviewed June 2012 by Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 06/06/2012
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