Neurogenic Bladder

What Is Neurogenic Bladder?

The bladder, located in the pelvis, is a hollow, muscular, balloon shaped organ that stores urine. The kidneys make urine when they filter the blood. Urine flows from the kidneys through a pair of thin tubes, the ureters, to the bladder, where it is stored until a person urinates. During urination, muscles in the wall of the bladder contract, forcing urine out of the bladder and into a tube called the urethra. At the same time, the sphincter muscles that surround the urethra relax.

Nerves carry messages from the bladder to the brain, telling the brain that the bladder is full. Then the brain sends messages back to the muscles of the bladder, telling them either to tighten or release. For the urinary system to work right, these muscles and nerves must work together to hold urine in the bladder and then release it at the right time.

In a neurogenic bladder the message-carrying nerves do not work properly. The result is that the bladder can be overactive, that is, it contracts too quickly or frequently, leading to urinary frequency, incontinence (inability to control urination) or urine leakage. Or the bladder can be unable to contract and/or empty completely. If it becomes too full, urine may back up into the kidneys. The extra pressure can cause damage to the tiny blood vessels in the kidney. Or urine that stays too long may lead to an infection in the bladder or ureters.

Additional Resources

For more information about neurogenic bladder, see the following web sites:

American Foundation for Urologic Disease
American Urological Association
Kidney and Urology Foundation of America
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)

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