Neurogenic bladder dysfunction disrupts bathroom habits

Some conditions that affect your brain, spine or nerves can keep you from controlling the muscles around your bladder. Without muscle control, you can’t go to the bathroom when you want or may not be able to feel when you need to go to the bathroom. You might go to the bathroom a lot in small amounts, go to the bathroom when you don’t want to (incontinence), not be able to start urinating or have urine leak out.

Many different conditions can lead to neurogenic bladder dysfunction, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Dementia
  • Spinal cord or brain injuries
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Stroke
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy)

Medicines strengthen bladder muscles and nerves

To regain control of your bladder, you can use a combination of medicines and therapy. Medicines can include:

  • Oxybutynin, propantheline or tolterodine – These pills help relax your bladder so you can go the bathroom more easily if you aren’t normally able to empty your bladder fully.
  • Bethanechol – This medicine can help keep your nerves active so that you keep control of the muscles around your bladder.
  • Botulinum toxin (Botox) – Botox helps keep your bladder muscles from spasming and making you go to the bathroom. You receive it through injections into your bladder muscles.

Therapy can help you strengthen the muscles around your bladder. You can also learn techniques, like keeping a journal, that help you know when you should go to the bathroom to avoid problems.

Surgery solves neurogenic bladder dysfunction

Medicine and therapy can usually help control your symptoms. If they don’t, however, some surgeries can help you. It is important to treat neurogenic bladder dysfunction because it can lead to urinary tract infections and serious kidney problems.

  • Nerve stimulation – Your doctor can implant wires into the nerves around your bladder. The nerves are connected to a generator that sends electrical signals into your nerves, helping disrupt nerve signals that keep you from controlling your bladder.
  • Sling surgery – Sling surgery helps support your bladder and muscles to increase control. During surgery, doctors put in a sling made out of your own tendons, plastic or other materials that hold your bladder up in a normal position and help you keep urine in.
  • Artificial sphincter – An artificial sphincter is an inflatable ring that forces your bladder shut, keeping you from experiencing leakage. When you have to go the bathroom, you relax the ring with a pump that is implanted in your stomach or groin, then refill it.
  • Urinary diversion – During this surgery, your doctor creates an opening in your bladder that lets urine leak into a special pouch.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.