Urodynamic studies in spinal cord tethering

Childs Nerv Syst. 2013 Sep;29(9):1589-600. doi: 10.1007/s00381-013-2136-2. Epub 2013 Sep 7.


Introduction: Tethered cord syndrome (TCS) is of particular interest to urologists through its effects on the function of the lower urinary tract. Tethering of the spinal cord can result in bladder dysfunction with multiple manifestations, clinically raging from urinary retention and detrusor under-activity to urinary incontinence, over-activity of the detrusor, and sphincter dysfunction. Goals of management include protecting renal function and preserving patient quality of life.

Methods: Evaluation of a TCS patient with urinary complaints begins with a thorough history and physical examination. Further characterization of urinary symptoms with a voiding diary provides vital information that helps to direct treatment while engaging the patient and family in the treatment plan. Urodynamic studies then provide key diagnostic data regarding bladder function, bladder outlet resistance, and urinary sphincter function. In the pediatric population, particular care must be paid to counseling patients and their families prior to the procedure to alleviate the often-considerable anxiety associated with an invasive procedure.

Conclusion: The armamentarium for management of neurogenic bladder associated with TCS includes behavioral training, biofeedback therapy, medications, patient-performed procedures, and surgical intervention. The choice of intervention depends on the patient's symptoms, urodynamic findings, and patient and family preferences. The primary problem of TCS should be addressed first through detethering, and then the urological team can use progressively more aggressive therapies as necessary. Interpretation and treatment by a dedicated, specialized, multidisciplinary team that includes the pediatric urologist, pediatric neurosurgeon and dedicated nurse practitioner, is critical for successful treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neural Tube Defects / complications*
  • Neural Tube Defects / physiopathology
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic / diagnosis*
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic / etiology*
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic / physiopathology*
  • Urodynamics*