Laurie LaRusso, MS, ELS
Neurogenic bladder is abnormal bladder function caused by a nerve problem. The bladder may empty too often or at the wrong time (incontinence) or the bladder may be unable to completely empty the urine (urinary retention). In this case, urine may leak out of the overfilled bladder.
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.
Neurogenic bladder is caused by problems with the nerves carrying messages between the bladder and the brain. The nerve problems may be caused by:
Factors that increase your chance of developing neurogenic bladder include:
Symptoms of neurogenic bladder may include:
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:
Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms by emptying your bladder regularly.
Treatment options include:
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:
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.
National Association for Continence
Urology Care Foundation
BC Health Guide
Canadian Spinal Research Organization
Morantz CA. ACOG guidelines on urinary incontinence in women.
Am Fam Physician. 2000;72:175.
Nerve disease and bladder control. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at:
http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/nervedisease/index.htm. Updated June 29, 2012. Accessed October 18, 2012.
Neurogenic bladder. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at:
http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=9. Updated January 2011. Accessed October 18, 2012.
Scientific Committee of the First International Consultation on Incontinence. Assessment and treatment of urinary incontinence.
Last reviewed December 2013 by Adrienne Carmack, 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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