Neurogenic bladder Factsheet


Neurogenic bladder is a condition where a child cannot control their urine due to brain, spinal cord or nerve issues.

The urinary system is made up of:

  • the kidneys – the organs that filter waste from the blood, turning it into urine or wee
  • the ureters – thin tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder
  • the bladder – where urine is stored before you are ready to go to the toilet
  • the urethra – the tube that takes urine out of the body.

Nerves and muscles hold urine in the bladder until a child is ready and can tell their body to release it. This is called urination or doing a wee.

The brain, spinal cord and nerves can have trouble sending messages to the bladder when there has been damage caused by:

  • disability
  • health conditions and illnesses
  • physical injuries.

 Signs and symptoms

Neurogenic bladder can cause issues like:

  • not being able to stop the flow of urine in time
  • not being able to empty the bladder properly
  • leaking or dribbling urine throughout the day
  • damage to the bladder, ureters, and kidneys
  • infection of the bladder, ureters, and kidneys.

If your child has a neurogenic bladder, they may show signs like:

  • urinary tract infections (UTIs) that are difficult to treat or keep coming back
  • dribbling or leaking urine throughout the day
  • not being able to get to the toilet in time
  • needing to go to the toilet more than normal
  • not feeling that the bladder is full.

Your child might also get kidney stones, small deposits of chemicals in the urine that harden into stones. 

Kidney stones can cause symptoms like:

  • pain in each side of the back
  • pain when urinating
  • blood in the urine
  • fever.

Neurogenic bladder is common in conditions and illnesses like:

  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • spina bifida
  • spinal cord injury
  • tumours.

If your child is having trouble controlling their bladder or has had sudden changes to their bladder control, see your local doctor as soon as possible.


Your child will be referred to a urologist to diagnose neurogenic bladder. Your child may also see a brain and spinal cord specialist called a neurologist.

Neurogenic bladder can be diagnosed through:

  • scans and x-rays of the urinary system
  • scans and x-rays of the central nervous system – the brain and spinal cord
  • tests that check how your child’s kidneys and bladder are functioning
  • tests that check your child’s urine.


Neurogenic bladder is caused by damage to the brain, spinal cord, or nerves. It is a permanent condition and cannot be cured. 

Treatment of neurogenic bladder focuses on: 

  • managing your child’s bladder control
  • managing infection and hygiene
  • keeping the kidneys and bladder healthy
  • teaching your child to manage their bladder control independently in the community.  
Last updated Wednesday 6th March 2024


This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024