Neurogenic Bladder and Spina Bifida

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Information on conditions unique to girls and young women can be found at

The pediatric urologists with Norton Children’s Urology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, are fellowship trained in pediatric and adolescent urology and genitourinary malformation. They provide spina bifida and neurogenic bladder care and services for children at locations throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

We have state-of-the-art equipment that is not available elsewhere in Louisville or Southern Indiana. Our specialists bring skill, respect and sensitivity to caring for your child’s urological needs.

Spina bifida is a birth defect that prevents the spinal column from closing properly. In its most severe form, part of the spine, nerves and tissues develop in a sac outside the spinal column.

How Spina Bifida Affects the Bladder

Children born with spina bifida typically have a neurogenic bladder. This means the bladder will have trouble storing urine, properly emptying or both. This is because nerves in the spinal cord that control the bladder didn’t form properly and cannot control the bladder correctly.

Most infants with spina bifida are born with normally functioning kidneys. The kidneys can be damaged if the bladder doesn’t work properly. Only a small percentage of kids with spina bifida are able to empty their bladders without the help of a catheter and to store urine without having accidents.

Many advances have been made in managing neurogenic bladder. Severe kidney damage is no longer common in patients with spina bifida.

Kids with spina bifida may experience frequent constipation because the nerves that regulate the intestines often don’t form properly. This typically doesn’t become an issue until the child begins eating solid foods.

Multidisciplinary Spina Bifida Care

Kids with spina bifida sometimes will need to see a pediatrician, urologist, gynecologist, orthopedic surgeonneurosurgeon, pediatric and adolescent gynecologist, and spine surgeon. A collaborative team of providers will be involved in your child’s care.

Norton Children’s offers a special Spina Bifida Clinic on the third Wednesday of every month, allowing spina bifida patients to see their health care providers in a single day.

The Norton Children’s Spina Bifida Clinic offers immediate and long-term care for children. For more information, call (502) 559-7225.

Our team of specialists will work with you to help minimize bladder and kidney issues in your child.

We will monitor your child’s urinary tract as part of their ongoing care. This may include any of the following tests:

  • Urinalysis and urine culture
  • Kidney and bladder ultrasound
  • Blood tests to assess kidney function
  • Urodynamics to understand how the bladder works

Treatment for a poorly functioning bladder may include voiding programs, physical therapy or biofeedback, catheterization, or medication. In some cases, your provider may recommend bladder surgery if these more conservative therapies are not working.

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