Lack of Bladder Control Due to Nervous System Disorders

Disorders of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) can lead to a lack of bladder control called neurogenic bladder. It occurs when illness or injuries affect the muscles and nerves that work together to control the bladder. Individuals with neurogenic bladder can’t always tighten or relax the muscles and nerves used to hold or release urine in the bladder.

The pediatric urologists at Penn State Health can diagnose and offer treatment recommendations for neurogenic bladder. Our specialists have advanced expertise in caring for these and other urological conditions in children of all ages.

Causes of Neurogenic Bladder

Central nervous system disorders that can contribute to neurogenic bladder include:

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Symptoms vary depending on the type and cause of neurogenic bladder. 

Symptoms of an overactive bladder (OAB) include:

  • Frequent need to urinate, often in small amounts
  • Loss of the ability to control the bladder
  • Problems fully emptying the bladder

Symptoms of an underactive bladder (UAB) include:

  • Difficulty starting to urinate
  • Full bladder that sometimes includes urine leakage
  • Problems emptying all the urine in the bladder (bladder retention)
  • Unawareness of when the bladder is full

Evaluation and Treatment of Neurogenic Bladder

Your child’s doctor or other health care provider will evaluate symptoms of neurogenic bladder. You may be asked to keep a diary of symptoms and when they occur.

Evaluation may include a referral to a pediatric urologist at Penn State Health for expert diagnosis and treatment recommendations. You can also contact us to schedule an appointment with a Penn State Health pediatric urologist.

Diagnosis may include:

  • Physical exam and medical history   
  • Urine samples and testing
  • X-ray or other imaging tests

The urologist will determine the cause of neurogenic bladder and recommend treatment options. Depending on the type and nature of the condition these may include:

  • Biofeedback therapies
  • Dietary changes
  • Medication to help manage symptoms and tighten or relax the bladder
  • Pelvic floor or other exercises
  • Reminder-aids, such as a programmable timer, phone or watch
  • Routine changes, such as timely bathroom breaks
  • Topical treatments

Your child’s doctor will work with you to manage urological symptoms and offer cross-specialty consultation and care to treat related nervous system conditions.

Why Choose Penn State Health for Pediatric Urology Care

Our pediatric urology team treats conditions that involve the urinary tract, bladder, kidneys and sex organs (genitalia). We use the latest technology and treatments to help your child. Our physicians and teams offer high-level care across specialties with sensitivity to the unique conditions and concerns of children.

Pediatric Expertise Across Specialties

The pediatric surgeons at Penn State Health have multispecialty training and experience. Doctors are skilled in performing the most intricate and complex procedures in infants, children and adolescents. Areas of expertise include:

  • Dedicated cross-specialty team of caring pediatric experts before, during and after surgery or other treatments and procedures
  • Minimally invasive surgery (sophisticated instruments and surgical procedures with smaller incisions)
  • Neonatal surgery (premature babies and newborns)
  • Pediatric oncology (cancer care)
  • Pediatric surgical innovation (software and device development)
  • Prenatal diagnosis and treatment (for problems with the baby’s development during pregnancy)

Penn State Health Children’s Hospital: Leading the Way

At Penn State Health, children are cared for by teams that are nationally known for pediatric excellence across medical specialties and subspecialties. Penn State Health Children’s Hospital is:

  • Recognized by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) for exceptional surgical care. Our hospital is one of eight in the nation and the only Level 1 Children’s Surgery Center in Pennsylvania as part of the ACS Children’s Surgery Verification Program.
  • Routinely ranked among the best children’s hospitals in the nation because of our focus on patient care, safety and research. U.S. News & World Report has recognized Penn State Children’s Hospital specialties with top rankings.

Our Research and Clinical Trials Drive Better Care

The pediatric specialists at Penn State Health are leaders in clinical science research. We welcome interested volunteers to consider participating in clinical trials. These studies help our scientists:

  • Improve diagnostic techniques
  • Develop better treatments
  • Collaborate with other researchers to advance care

Learn more about Penn State Health clinical trials.

Support Groups

Support groups provide children and their families an opportunity to connect with others in similar situations. Learn more about the support groups offered at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.

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