The neurogenic bladder: introducing four contributions

Pediatr Nephrol. 2008 Apr;23(4):537-40. doi: 10.1007/s00467-008-0768-3. Epub 2008 Feb 16.


Neurogenic bladder dysfunction in children is frequently seen in patients with meningomyelocele (MMC). The disorder carries a high risk for all kinds of complications, with renal damage being the most important. More than 95% of MMC patients have a neurogenic bladder, the paramount manifestation of which is a disturbed coordination between detrusor and sphincter muscles. This vesicourethral dysfunction leads to defective filling and emptying of the urinary bladder. Voiding at will is almost never possible. According to the location and extent of the neural tube lesion, patients have either an atonic or a hypertonic pelvic floor and either an atonic or a hypertonic detrusor, leading to four classic combinations. Hypertonic sphincter and detrusor hyperactivity lead to the most dangerous form of neurogenic bladder, referred to as the "unsafe" bladder. The presence of residual urine in a high-pressure container causes either decompensation of the detrusor with vesicoureteral reflux or deterioration of the bladder wall with hypertrophy and stiffness resulting in uterovesical obstruction. The subsequent insufficient drainage of the upper urinary tract leads to decompensation of the ureters and finally to chronic renal disease, the process being accelerated by urinary tract infections. The aim of treatment is to restore as much as possible both essential functions: urine storage and timely emptying of the reservoir. What should and can be achieved is a more or less adequate, low-pressure, functional capacity of the bladder that is emptied as completely as possible by clean intermittent catheterization (CIC). MMC leads to the prototype of neurogenic bladder in childhood. What we know and what we do for MMC patients can roughly be applied to all other forms of neurogenic bladder, either congenital or acquired.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Introductory Journal Article

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Meningomyelocele / complications
  • Meningomyelocele / physiopathology
  • Pediatrics / education*
  • Urinary Bladder / physiopathology
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic / etiology
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic / physiopathology
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic / therapy*
  • Urination