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Understanding Neurogenic Bladder

Being able to use the bathroom normally may be a physical capability that some people take for granted. However, people who suffer from neurogenic bladder often cannot control this bodily function. They must seek out medical treatment to ease or eliminate the symptoms and complications that can come with having a neurogenic bladder.

What is a Neurogenic Bladder?

A neurogenic bladder is a condition that is caused by an underlying illness or injury to the body or brain. It is also known as dysfunctional voiding or voiding dysfunction. It can affect both men and women regardless of their age.

The symptoms of neurogenic bladder can vary. However, the most common ones include:

  • Urinary incontinence
  • Urinary retention
  • Pelvic pain
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Deterioration of kidney function

People who are suspected of having this condition are typically subjected to a number of diagnostic tests to determine whether or not they truly have neurogenic bladder. The tests can include urodynamics, a cystoscopy, renal ultrasound, or a CAT scan to examine the health and function of the kidneys.

A neurogenic bladder can be treated a number of different ways. The prescribed treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the condition.

Causes of Neurogenic Bladder

A number of different factors can cause the development and persistence of a neurogenic bladder. Some of the most common causes of this condition include:

  • Brain tumors
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Strokes
  • Dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Trauma
  • Diabetes

In some instances, treating an underlying cause like diabetes could remedy some or all of the symptoms of neurogenic bladder. Alternatively, treatment for the underlying cause may involve treating the neurogenic bladder at the same time as the primary cause.

Neurogenic Bladder Treatments

The types of treatments for neurogenic bladder all are designed to ease as much as possible either the symptoms of this condition or the underlying cause contributing to them. For some people, remedying this condition could be as simple as retraining the bladder or engaging in pelvic floor exercises. These exercises increase support for the bladder.

Other patients may fare better receiving sacral nerve stimulation or SNS, which is designed to rewire the signals from the brain to the bladder. If SNS does not work, people could receive Botox injections that will calm the muscles of an overactive bladder.

Doctors also commonly prescribe medications like anticholinergics, which relax the nerves and muscles around the bladder. They also prevent urine leakage and allow people to go longer in between visits to the bathroom.

When all of these possible remedies do not work, patients may need to undergo surgery for neurogenic bladder. The surgery could involve extending the size and holding capacity of the bladder by enlarging it with a piece of the bladder. Alternatively, the surgeon could create a stoma so urine can be drained through the abdominal wall.

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