Damage to the nervous system may sometimes cause patients to lose normal bladder function, a condition known as neurogenic bladder. Under normal conditions, the nervous system controls bladder function by sending messages from the brain to the bladder and from the bladder to the brain that signal a tightening or release of the bladder during urination. Patients suffering from this condition may experience an underactive bladder unable to contract or empty completely or an overactive bladder that contracts too quickly and frequently.
Birth defects affecting spinal cord and bladder function (i.e. – spina bifida)
Traumatic spinal cord injury
Tumors located in the spinal cord or pelvic area
Common Symptoms of Neurogenic Bladder include:
Dribbling urinary stream
Inability to urinate
Frequent/ Urgent urination
Vesicoureteral reflux (abnormal urine back-up)
In the case of neurogenic bladder, a patient’s nervous system and bladder are tested to determine a diagnosis. The following tests may be utilized by a urologist:
Skull and spinal X-rays
Electroencephalogram (EEG) of brain function
Imaging tests of the bladder and ureters
Bladder function tests
Typically, the first line of treatment for neurogenic bladder is antibiotic medication. Patients may also undergo clean intermittent catherization (CIC) to empty a bladder that is unable to contract or a bladder that has lost urinary coordination.
Surgical treatments for neurogenic bladder may include:
Endoscopic surgery to cut the external urethral sphincter (muscle that controls urine flow from the bladder)
Implantation of permanent stents
An endoscopic injection of paralytic agents into the external urethral sphincter to provide temporary relief.
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