Neurogenic bladder is a dysfunction that results from interference with the normal nerve pathways associated with urination.
Normal bladder function is dependent on the nerves that sense the fullness of the bladder (sensory nerves) and on those that trigger the muscle movements that either empty it or retain urine (motor nerves). The reflex to urinate is triggered when the bladder fills to 300-500 ml. The bladder is then emptied when the contraction of the bladder wall muscles forces urine out through the urethra. The bladder, internal sphincters, and external sphincters may all be affected by nerve disorders that create abnormalities in bladder function.
There are two categories of neurogenic bladder dysfunction: overactive (spastic or hyper-reflexive) and underactive (flaccid or hypotonic). An overactive neurogenic bladder is characterized by uncontrolled, frequent expulsion of urine from the bladder. There is reduced bladder capacity and incomplete emptying of urine. An underactive neurogenic bladder has a capacity that is extremely large (up to 2000 ml). Due to a loss of the sensation of bladder filling, the bladder does not contract forcefully, and small amounts of urine dribble from the urethra as the bladder pressure reaches a breakthrough point.
Causes and symptoms
There are numerous causes for neurogenic bladder dysfunction and symptoms vary depending on the cause. An overactive bladder is caused by interruptions in the nerve pathways to the bladder occurring above the sacrum (five fused spinal vertebrae located just above the tailbone or coccyx). This nerve damage results in a loss of sensation and motor control and is often seen instroke, Parkinson's disease, and most forms of spinal-cord injuries. An underactive bladder is the result of interrupted bladder stimulation at the level of the sacral nerves. This may result from certain types of surgery on the spinal cord, sacral spinal tumors, or congenital defects. It also may be a complication of various diseases, such as syphilis, diabetes mellitus, or polio.
Kathleen D. Wright RN, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,