Neurogenic Bladder -- Adult

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.

  • Causes


    Neurogenic bladder is caused by 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
      • Diabetes
      • Stroke
      • Multiple sclerosis

  • Definition


    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.

    Bladder With Nerves, Female
    BJ00029 97870 1.jpg
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  • Diagnosis

    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:

    • Urinalysis
    • Blood tests
    • Bladder function tests

    • Imaging tests of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder, such as:

      • X-rays
      • Ultrasound
      • Computed tomography (CT) scan
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • Urodynamics

  • Prevention

    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.

  • Risk Factors


    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)
    • Diabetes
    • Stroke

  • Symptoms


    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

  • Treatment

    Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms by emptying your bladder regularly.

    Treatment options include: