Neurogenic Bladder in Children

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Neurogenic bladder is a condition in which the bladder doesn’t work properly as a result of nerve damage, birth defects or other neurological conditions. Children with neurogenic bladder have trouble holding and releasing urine.

Untreated neurogenic bladder can lead to damage of the blood vessels in the urinary system. This can make your child more prone to issues like urinary tract infections (UTIs) and kidney swelling.

Causes & Symptoms of Neurogenic Bladder

The most common causes of neurogenic bladder are:

  • Spina bifida (a defect of the spine and spinal cord that develops in the womb)
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Tumors of the central nervous system

Symptoms of neurogenic bladder include:

  • Leaking urine (when the muscles of the bladder have trouble receiving messages from the brain, they may not be able to properly hold in urine)
  • Retention of urine (the muscles of the bladder don’t function properly in the process of releasing urine)

Diagnosis & Treatment at UVA Health Children's

At UVA Health Children's, your child’s healthcare provider may perform the following in addition to routine exams:

  • Urine test (to check for infections or protein in the urine)
  • Urodynamic study (which checks how the bladder is functioning)
  • Ultrasound examination (to visually check the bladder and kidneys)

Treatment will vary depending on the severity of your child’s case, but may include:

  • Timed voiding (using the toilet at scheduled times to avoid accidents and protect the kidneys)
  • Using a catheter (to empty the bladder at regular times during the day; in severe cases, a permanent catheter is needed)
  • Medications
  • Artificial sphincter (a small, inflatable cuff that fits around the neck of the bladder to control bladder emptying)
  • Surgery