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Neuro-Urology and Neurogenic Bladder

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​Bladder problems can be an embarrassing and painful experience. At UC San Diego Health, our urologists want to help patients with neurogenic bladder live healthy, productive lives.

Your options for effective bladder control include advanced surgical and nonsurgical treatments. We aim to prevent the recurrence of urinary tract infections and kidney stones and help enhance your sexual health and fertility.

What is Neurogenic Bladder?

Neurogenic bladder is a neurological (nervous system) condition that prevents you from having effective bladder control. It can cause painful urination, incontinence, kidney stones, UTIs and other issues.

The nerves and muscles of the urinary system have to work together for the bladder to hold and release urine correctly. Nerves send messages back and forth from the brain and spinal cord to the bladder.

An injury to these nerves by accident or disease may cause the bladder to lose the ability to relax or squeeze at the right time, leading to neurogenic bladder. The condition can also be a result of congenital malformations (present at birth) or medical conditions, such as:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Brain tumors
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Diabetes
  • HIV
  • Incontinence or urinary retention after pelvic surgery
  • Lumbar spine diseases, including lumbar stenosis
  • Movement disorders, including Parkinson's disease
  • Memory disorders, including Alzheimer's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Normal-pressure hydrocephalus
  • Spina bifida
  • Spinal cord birth defects, injuries and tumors
  • Stroke

Neuro-Urology Experts

U.S. News & World Report - UC San Diego Health Ranked Nationally in Urology

Your care team draws upon innovative research and state-of-art technology to ensure that you receive the best possible services.

U.S. News & World Report ranks us among the nation's best urology programs. Our neuro-urologists have extensive experience in treating neurogenic bladder disorders. We also work with other specialists to make sure you get exceptional and well-rounded care.

Meet Your Care Team

Neurogenic Bladder Symptoms We Treat

In neurogenic bladder, you could face two types of problems: underactive or overactive bladder. Your symptoms may include:

  • Dribbling urine
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Difficulty voiding, including slow or weak urine stream

Innovative Treatments and Personalized Care Plan

Our Locations

At your first visit, we discuss your goals of care and do a thorough review of the history of your condition. We identify any concerns based on your condition (such as risks to kidney function). You can share your expectations on what would most improve your quality of life.

We work with you to develop a customized treatment plan that is best for you. You will have access to the most-effective therapies and latest advances in urologic surgery that promote faster recovery.

Diagnostic Tests

  • Cystoscopy: Evaluation of the anatomy of lower urinary tract
  • Urodynamics: Study of bladder function
  • Transrectal ultrasound: Test to determine prostate size

Nonsurgical Treatment Options for Neurogenic Bladder

  • Devices such as condom catheters/penile clamps for male patients with incontinence
  • Pelvic floor physical therapy to treat bladder incontinence, urinary frequency, pelvic pain and difficulty in urinating
  • Catheter management to make the catheterization process easier and fit your lifestyle
  • Medications to relax the bladder and treat incontinence, and to relieve prostatic obstruction
  • Botox injections for patients who have significant bladder overactivity or hold urine at high pressures
  • Posterior tibial nerve stimulation to treat urgency incontinence and urinary frequency
  • Dietary and behavioral counseling to help manage bladder symptoms

Surgical Treatment Options for Neurogenic Bladder

  • Artificial urinary sphincter: For male patients with moderate to severe stress incontinence
  • Bladder augmentation: To increase bladder capacity and calm bladder overactivity
  • Catheterizable channels: Created when catheterization cannot be performed via the urethra
  • Sacral neuromodulation: To treat urinary frequency, urgency incontinence, non-obstructive urinary retention and/or fecal incontinence
  • Slings (autologous fascial, urethral or mid-urethral): To treat moderate to severe incontinence
  • Suprapubic catheter placement: For patients who require short- or long-term indwelling catheters and who prefer to avoid urethral catheterization
  • Surgeries for prostate obstruction (TURP, UroLift, Rexum, GreenLight laser): Alternatives to medication therapy
  • Urethral bulking agents: Minimally invasive process for mild stress incontinence
  • Urinary diversion: Alternate way of collecting urine when the bladder doesn’t function