• Neurogenic Bladder—Adult

    (Neurogenic Incontinence—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 .
    Bladder With Nerves, Female
    BJ00029 97870 1.jpg
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    Neurogenic bladder is caused by problems with the nerves carrying messages between the bladder and the brain. The nerve problems may be caused by:

    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 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


    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 a urologist for further evaluation and treatment.
    Tests may include the following:


    Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms by emptying your bladder regularly.
    Treatment options include:

    Behavioral Therapy

    • Bladder training—setting a regular schedule to empty your bladder and drinking less fluid
    • Exercises to strengthen muscles around the bladder that help control urine flow
    • Painless electrical stimulation to help the function of bladder muscles


    A thin tube, called a catheter, can be inserted to empty the bladder. You can learn to do this yourself or a trained healthcare professional may do it for you.


    Surgery may be an option for severe cases when all other treatments fail. Surgical procedures include:
    • Removing part of the muscle that holds the bladder closed—This allows urine to flow out into a collection tube attached to the penis (for men only).
    • Inserting a tube into an opening in the abdomen—This allows urine to flow out into a collection bag.
    • Using tissue from the bowel to make the bladder larger
    • Replacing the bladder with a pouch made from sections of the bowel or other tissue
    • Inserting a small tube-like device, called a stent, into the bladder neck to allow urine to flow out.


    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.


    American Urological Association Foundation http://www.urologyhealth.org

    National Association for Continence http://www.nafc.org


    BC Health Guide http://www.bchealthguide.org

    Canadian Spinal Research Organization http://www.csro.com


    Morantz CA. ACOG guidelines on urinary incontinence in women. Am Fam Physician . 2000;72:175.

    Nerve disease and bladder control. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/nervedisease/index.htm . Updated June 29, 2012. Accessed October 18, 2012.

    Neurogenic bladder. American Urological Association website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=9 . Updated January 2011. Accessed October 18, 2012.

    Scientific Committee of the First International Consultation on Incontinence. Assessment and treatment of urinary incontinence. Lancet . 2000;355:2153-2158.

    Revision Information

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.