Many women with a Spinal Cord Injury, Spina Bifida, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or injury from child birth have difficulties emptying the bladder. In this article we focus on the reason: Atonic Bladder.
Urinary retention means that urine remains in the bladder even after you've been to the toilet. The reasons can vary, but one condition causing retention is Atonic Bladder. In this article, we take a look at the causes, effects, and solutions for this condition.
Atonic Bladder refers to weakened bladder muscles unable to contract to aid the passing of urine. This is common in those with a spinal cord injury or neurological disease.
This condition can also cause overflow incontinence, whereby the bladder is filled and stretched to its maximum, yet urination is still not possible. As the urine cannot be drained, the bladder is distended, further losing its muscle tone and with it the ability to void.
As well as being painful, an Atonic Bladder can lead to a UTI – urinary tract infection, as harmful bacteria builds up in the bladder. With regular and complete voiding, a healthy urinary tract can be maintained as the bacteria is flushed out, but a buildup of bacteria can present serious health issues.
Treatment of Atonic Bladder
The standard treatments for voiding an Atonic Bladder are:
- Intermittent catheterization
- Indwelling catheterization
- Surgery (suprapubic tube cystostomy)
While the last two treatments require invasive therapies that reside within the body for weeks or months at a time before changing with associated risks, intermittent catheterization is a therapy that most mimics the body's natural rhythm for voiding the bladder, reducing the risk of UTI as bacteria does not have time to linger and become infectious.
IC – Intermittent Catheterization, is also a convenient therapy that can be used while traveling and every day in the bathroom.
Atonic Bladder belongs to a range of conditions and symptoms more commonly referred to as LUTS – Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms. Learn more about LUTS in our free eBook: "Women and LUTS"
Ann Gormley et al. "Diagnosis and Treatment of Overactive Bladder (Non-Neurogenic) in Adults: AUA/SUFU Guideline" American Urological Association (2014)
Irwin et al., BJU International,2009
Dielubanza, EJ & Schaeffer,The Medical clinics of North America,2011.
Foxman et al., The American journal of medicine, 2002
Drake et al. Neurourology and urodynamics, 2016
Center for Urogynecology and Pelvic Floor Disorders, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health Institute, Cleveland Clinic, USA