What is a Neurogenic Bladder?
Your child’s bladder has two important functions: hold and empty urine. Nerves from the brain
send a signal to the muscles of the bladder to either tighten or relax. Neurogenic bladder is a
condition when these signals don’t work properly or are damaged and the bladder muscles are
not able to hold or empty the urine.
What causes a neurogenic bladder?
In children, a neurogenic bladder may be
caused by a birth defect such as Spina Bifida
or other spinal cord trauma. Your child may
develop a neurogenic bladder later in life
from other conditions such as a tumor,
accident or trauma.
What are the symptoms of a neurogenic
Every child is different. Symptoms may
depend on the cause of the neurogenic
bladder. Below are some common
symptoms and conditions that can occur
with a neurogenic bladder:
ξ Urinary incontinence – if the
muscles are not able to hold urine in
the bladder it leaks out.
ξ Urinary retention – if the muscles are
not able to relax so the bladder can
empty like it should, urine stays in
ξ Hydronephrosis – this is fluid in the
kidney that may occur if the bladder
is not able to empty regularly.
ξ Vesicoureteral reflux – urine from
the bladder backs up into the kidneys
and over time this may damage the
ξ Urinary tract infections – if the
bladder is unable to empty regularly
this may put your child at risk for
developing an infection.
ξ Bladder stones - when urine sits in
the bladder for long periods of time,
it can develop into a stone.
ξ Neurogenic bowel – similar damage
to the nerves that control your child’s
bowel habits and can cause
incontinence or severe constipation.
How is Neurogenic Bladder Diagnosed?
Your child’s provider will review a
complete health history and perform a
physical exam. Your child may also need
testing to examine the bladder and nervous
systems. Your provider or nurse can explain
the tests in more detail for you.
ξ Renal bladder ultrasound to check
the structure of your child’s kidneys,
ureters and bladder.
ξ Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG)
to check for urine that goes back into
(reflux) into the kidneys.
ξ Blood work to check if your child’s
kidneys are working well.
ξ Urodynamic testing to see how the
bladder fills with sterile saline,
empties and how much pressure is in
the bladder during this process.
ξ Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
to check the spinal cord for damage
or to see if there is any changes from
a birth defect.
ξ Cystoscopy to look at the inside of
the bladder with a camera to check
What are the goals to manage Neurogenic
ξ Prevent the kidneys from damage
and support them to continue to work
ξ Decrease or stop wetting accidents
by teaching you and your child about
ξ Promote self-esteem: help you and
your child feel comfortable.
What are the treatment options?
Treating a neurogenic bladder depends on
the cause. All treatment options are
recommended to prevent kidney damage and
should be discussed with your provider.
ξ Anti-cholinergic medicines. These
medicines help relax the bladder and
ξ Clean intermittent catheterization
(CIC) to empty the bladder at regular
times and prevent kidney damage.
ξ Prophylactic antibiotics to prevent
urinary tract infections.
ξ Overnight urinary catheter drainage.
ξ In some cases, surgery or bladder
injections may be recommended.
Your provider will discuss the
options with you and your child in
Your provider will create a treatment plan
using the options that meet your child’s
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 12/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7564