Bladder management in children with transverse myelitis

Arthi Hannallah, Niccolo Passoni, Craig A. Peters, Nabeel Shakir, Benjamin Greenberg, Micah Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Patients with transverse myelitis (TM) often present with urinary retention. While many recover their bladder function, some have persistent voiding dysfunction, and both intermediate and long-term outcomes are variable. Objective: In patients who develop urinary retention requiring clean intermittent catheterization (CIC) at onset of TM, we sought to assess factors associated with improved voiding function and the risk of requiring persistent CIC over time. Study design: We reviewed children evaluated at our institution for TM from April 1998 to October 2018. Patients were included if they required CIC at initial presentation of TM. Demographics, initial and follow up neurologic exams were evaluated for their association with a return to baseline volitional voiding after requiring catheterization upon diagnosis of TM, with or without medical therapy. Results: Among the 78 patients who presented with TM during the study period, 43 patients required CIC, with median follow up of 2.7 years. When evaluating for demographic or sensorimotor features associated with improvement to baseline voiding function in patients who initially required CIC, preserved lower extremity reflexes at presentation was the only significant prognostic factor (p < 0.05). Additionally, having complete lower motor neurologic recovery was associated with volitional voiding (p < 0.05). Among the 43 patients who were initially catheterizing, 27/43 (62%) were volitionally voiding at median follow up of 7 months from initial presentation, while the remaining 16/43 remained on CIC for a median follow up of 3.6 years. The cumulative risk of remaining on CIC was 60%, 47%, and 42% at 1, 5, and 10 year follow up, respectively, though there was not a significant difference in the rate of bladder recovery if patients had preserved reflexes. Discussion: In children with TM who initially developed urinary retention, intact reflexes at presentation were associated with urologic recovery. Additionally, complete neurologic recovery was associated with volitional voiding. While 62% were volitionally voiding at most recent follow-up, the cumulative incidence of dependence on CIC within the first year of diagnosis was 60%, with a relatively few patients regaining volitional voiding by 10 years of follow-up. Conclusion: Among those initially evaluated for urinary retention in the setting of transverse myelitis, intact lower extremity reflexes on physical exam was associated with improved voiding function at most recent follow-up. However, more than half the patients on CIC at initial presentation required CIC at one year of follow-up. Careful, long-term monitoring of voiding status in patients with TM is recommended, even with improvement of neurological status.[Formula

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)522.e1-522.e6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Urology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Neurogenic bladder
  • Transverse myelitis
  • Urinary retention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Urology


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