Neurogenic Bladder

Neurogenic bladder is a condition characterized by the loss of bladder function, preventing patients from effectively emptying the bladder. Normal bladder function involves a complex communication system between nerves and muscles that work together to tighten or release the bladder muscles and allow urine to be released.

Causes of Neurogenic Bladder

Neurogenic bladder may develop after an accident or trauma to the brain or spinal cord. It may also occur because of a genetic nerve defect, or tumors in the spinal cord or pelvis. It can be a common complication of major pelvic surgery. Patients afflicted with the following conditions may also be at a higher risk for developing neurogenic bladder:

  • Diabetes
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis

Symptoms of a Neurogenic Bladder

Patients with neurogenic bladder often experience the following symptoms:

  • Urine leakage
  • Painful urination
  • Urine retention
  • Bladder infection
  • Urinary tract infection

Diagnosis of a Neurogenic Bladder

Doctors can diagnose neurogenic bladder by examining both the nervous system and the bladder itself. The doctor will perform a physical examination and ask about medical history, especially about any neurological problems such as back injury, stroke, or other neurological diseases. The following tests may also be used to diagnose neurogenic bladder:

  • Urodynamic studies or bladder function tests
  • Cystoscopy
  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • MRI tests

In some cases, patients may be referred to a neurologist for consultation.

Treatment of a Neurogenic Bladder

Treatment for neurogenic bladder often begins with medication, which can be effective in relieving symptoms of the condition. In addition, the following treatments may be suggested:

  • Antibiotics to treat infections
  • Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles
  • Catheter to empty the bladder at regular intervals
  • Surgical implantation of a permanent stent or artificial sphincter
  • Electrical device implanted near the bladder nerves to stimulate the bladder muscles

Prevention of Neurogenic Bladder

While all cases of neurogenic bladder cannot be prevented, behavioral changes may help in curtailing the severity of symptoms. Recommendations may include:

  • Limiting fluid intake to avoid putting stress on the bladder
  • Modifying diet to avoid spicy food and caffeinated beverages
  • Kegel exercises help strengthen the pelvic muscles

Effective management of this condition can help to reduce a patient's risk of recurrence. If symptoms of neurogenic bladder are not treated, they can lead to kidney problems or renal disease.

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