Neurogenic bladder occurs when some or all of the nerves to the bladder are damaged or incomplete. These problems can occur because of a birth defect such as spina bifida, or because of injuries to the nerves in the back or the neck or with problems such as diabetes or stroke. Any disease or dysfunction of the nerves can contribute to neurogenic bladder problems. Typical bladder symptoms would include difficulty with emptying (urinary retention), recurrent infections and urinary leakage (urge incontinence).
There are many successful strategies for managing these problems and surgery is rarely needed. It is important to remember that the kidneys drain into the bladder and, if the bladder is not working properly, urine will back up in the system and may damage the kidneys and lead to life threatening problems of hypertension and kidney failure. Bladder management is a critical part of effective care. Intermittent catheterization is commonly used to keep patients dry and comfortable.
Emory University has a team of advanced practice nurses who specialize in the care and management of these problems.