Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link
Quick Facts

Neurogenic Bladder


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Mar 2021| Content last modified Mar 2021
Click here for the Professional Version
Get the full details
Topic Resources

What is neurogenic bladder?

Your bladder is where urine is stored until you're ready to urinate (pee). "Neuro-" refers to nerves or the nervous system (brain and spinal cord), and "-genic" means produced or caused by.

Neurogenic bladder is lack of bladder control caused by problems with the nerves that go to your bladder.

  • Your bladder may fill up and overflow so that urine dribbles out

  • You may feel the urge to urinate even when your bladder isn't full

  • Doctors often have you empty your bladder with a catheter several times a day

  • Sometimes medicine helps

  • Getting treatment right away helps prevent kidney damage

Some nerve problems keep your bladder muscles from contracting normally. Then your bladder fills up with urine and you leak urine. When you urinate, your bladder doesn't empty all the way.

Other nerve problems make your bladder muscles contract too much or at the wrong time. Then you may urinate too often and urinate when you don't want to.

What causes neurogenic bladder?

Causes include:

What are the symptoms of neurogenic bladder?

The main symptom is not being able to control when you urinate (incontinence). With neurogenic bladder you may constantly pass small amounts of urine.

Other symptoms include:

Neurogenic bladder increases your risk of:

How can doctors tell if I have neurogenic bladder?

Doctors suspect neurogenic bladder if you're having problems controlling urination. They'll use ultrasound or a catheter to measure how much urine is still in your bladder after you urinate. Doctors also do tests such as:

  • Ultrasound of your urinary tract to look for kidney damage

  • Blood tests to check kidney function

If it looks like you have neurogenic bladder, doctors may then do more specialized bladder tests.

How do doctors treat neurogenic bladder?

If your bladder fills up and won't empty properly, doctors will have you:

  • Use a catheter to empty your bladder several times a day

The catheter lets urine drain all the way. You use the catheter before your bladder fills up so much that you leak urine. Doctors prefer not to leave a catheter in all the time. It's better to put it in and then take it right out after the urine drains.

If your bladder contracts at the wrong times, doctors may use:

  • Medicine

  • Bladder training and relaxation techniques

Doctors will have you drink plenty of fluids during the day, so you don't get kidney stones.

They'll check to make sure your kidneys are working well.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version


Others also read

Test your knowledge

Lip Sores, Lip Inflammation, and other Changes
The lips undergo changes with aging, as do all parts of the body. Some changes may indicate a medical issue; others are harmless. As people age, the lips tend to become thinner. Deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals can lead to inflammation of the lips (cheilitis), causing them to become red, cracked, painful, swollen, and/or scaly. Deficiency of which of the following vitamins or minerals can cause these symptoms? 
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Also of Interest

Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID