Neurourology is the study of how the nervous system affects the urinary system. The brain, spinal cord and nerves are very important to the healthy function of the bladder. Neurological diseases and disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, stroke and spinal cord injury can disrupt the lower urinary tract and result in conditions such as urinary incontinence and the inability to urinate. Birth conditions such as spina bifida also cause neurological dysfunction of bladder control. Neurogenic bladder is a term applied to a malfunctioning urinary bladder due to neurologic dysfunction or injury.
The effects of neurological disease or injury on bladder function and control may manifest as one or more of the following: urgency, frequency, inability to urinate (partially or completely), incontinence, inability to sense the need to urinate. These symptoms are not specific to neurourologic bladder dysfunction, and are also seen in bladder problems due to causes other than nerve diseases. Sometimes, the consequences of poor bladder function result in urinary infections.
The diagnosis of neurourologic bladder dysfunction is made through a medical history taking, and a physical examination. Other tests may be performed as well, such as a urodynamics study, which measures the function of the bladder.
Treatment depends on whether a patient is having difficulty with emptying his or her bladder, or having trouble with urinary control/incontinence. A number of treatments are available, including medications, catheter use, and surgical procedures.
A patient with a neurogenic bladder can improve his or her quality of life through a variety of ways. An individualized treatment program can be discussed with a physician.
Richard W. Grady, MD
Byron D. Joyner, M.D., M.P.A., F.A.A.P., F.A.C.
Thomas S. Lendvay, MD
Margarett Shnorhavorian, MD, MPH, FAAP
Claire C. Yang, MD