Neurogenic Lower Urinary Tract Dysfunction in Spinal Dysraphism: Morphological and Molecular Evidence in Children

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Feb 12;24(4):3692. doi: 10.3390/ijms24043692.


Spinal dysraphism, most commonly myelomeningocele, is the typical cause of a neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction (NLUTD) in childhood. The structural changes in the bladder wall in spinal dysraphism already occur in the fetal period and affect all bladder wall compartments. The progressive decrease in smooth muscle and the gradual increase in fibrosis in the detrusor, the impairment of the barrier function of the urothelium, and the global decrease in nerve density, lead to severe functional impairment characterized by reduced compliance and increased elastic modulus. Children present a particular challenge, as their diseases and capabilities evolve with age. An increased understanding of the signaling pathways involved in lower urinary tract development and function could also fill an important knowledge gap at the interface between basic science and clinical implications, leading to new opportunities for prenatal screening, diagnosis, and therapy. In this review, we aim to summarize the evidence on structural, functional, and molecular changes in the NLUTD bladder in children with spinal dysraphism and discuss possible strategies for improved management and for the development of new therapeutic approaches for affected children.

Keywords: detrusor–sphincter dyssynergia; myelomeningocele; neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction; spinal dysraphism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neural Tube Defects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Spinal Dysraphism*
  • Urinary Bladder
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic* / etiology
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic* / therapy
  • Urodynamics

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.