A spinal cord injury may interrupt communication between the nerves in the spinal cord that control bladder and bowel function and the brain, causing bladder- and bowel-function problems. This results in bladder or bowel dysfunction that is termed "neurogenic bladder" or "neurogenic bowel." People with multiple sclerosis or spina bifida may have similar problems.

If you have neurogenic bladder, your signs may include loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence), inability to empty the bladder, urinary frequency and urinary tract infections. Signs of neurogenic bowel include loss of bowel control (bowel incontinence), constipation, bowel frequency and lack of bowel movements.

The Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota offers several bladder and bowel management options for people with neurogenic bladder or bowel. Read more about neurogenic bladder and bowel management options.

Read more about diagnosis and treatment of spinal cord injury.

The Mayo Clinic Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota offers several bladder and bowel management options for people with a neurogenic bladder or bowel.

Bladder management options for people with a neurogenic bladder include:

  • Education. Staff provides you with comprehensive patient education regarding neurogenic bladder symptoms and management.
  • Medications. Your doctor may prescribe medications to improve bladder function, such as reduce bladder contractions, lower urinary frequency, improve loss of bladder control (incontinence), increase bladder storage or empty the bladder.
  • Clean technique intermittent catheterization. In clean technique intermittent catheterization (CIC), you or a health care professional inserts a thin tube (catheter) through the urethra and into your bladder several times during the day to empty your bladder.
  • Continuous catheter drainage. A health care professional may insert a catheter through your urethra or abdominal wall and into your bladder to continuously empty your bladder.
  • Surgical intervention. Doctors trained in bladder management (urologists) may perform bladder reconstructive surgery that may resolve or improve bladder symptoms and management.
  • Follow-up care. Doctors and other specialists trained in neurogenic bladder management and treatment provide follow-up care.

Bowel management options for people with a neurogenic bowel include:

  • Education. Staff provides you with comprehensive education regarding neurogenic bowel symptoms and management.
  • Medications. Your doctor may prescribe medications to manage timing and consistency of bowel movements.
  • Anal irrigation. Anal irrigation is a new conservative bowel management therapy to reduce constipation and assist in effective bowel movement and management.
  • Surgical intervention. Surgeons trained in bowel surgery (colorectal surgeons) may perform reconstructive surgery that may resolve difficulties in bowel management.
Feb. 16, 2012