Symptoms and complications

Symptoms and complications of neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction depend on where the problem is in the nervous system. Maybe you’ve noticed that normal storage and passing of urine is disrupted. Sometimes a problem doesn’t cause any discomfort.

Symptoms include:

  • Slow or incomplete emptying of the bladder
  • No sensation of the bladder
  • Feeling abdominal fullness
  • Not knowing when or if you will urinate (bladder spasticity)
  • A frequent and compelling urge to empty the bladder, day or night, that is difficult to defer
  • Incontinence
  • Pain in the bladder or genital region

The location of the neurological problem usually influences the type of symptoms the patient may experience (Figure 1). Urological problems that occur after sudden changes like spinal injury tend to be more severe than those caused by chronic conditions.

Neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction can cause a variety of short- or long-term complications:

  • Damaged kidney function caused by high pressure in the bladder is the most significant complication.
  • The bladder can deteriorate and lose the ability to empty if high pressure builds up during storage or urination.
  • Incomplete emptying of the bladder or backflow of urine to the kidneys might cause recurrent urinary tract infections, which can lead to dangerous effects on organs or even the whole body.

Delay of treatment might lead to worsening of all lower urinary tract function. This results in the need for more drastic therapy. Generally, treatment and follow-up examinations are based on the type of neurourological disorder and the underlying cause.

Fig.1: Patterns of lower urinary tract dysfunction following neurological disease.
Fig.1: Patterns of lower urinary tract dysfunction following neurological disease.