Radiology tests like X-rays or ultrasounds are important parts of a neurogenic bladder diagnosis, but your doctor may order other tests as well.
Neurogenic bladder is a condition that occurs when your neurological system and your bladder don’t communicate the way they need to, resulting in reduced muscle control in your bladder and symptoms such as urinary urgency, urinary frequency, and incontinence.
If your doctor suspects that your symptoms are due to neurogenic bladder, they’ll likely order imaging tests such as X-rays and ultrasounds to help confirm the diagnosis. These won’t be the only tests you’ll have, but they will be the tests that can provide important information about your bladder, spine, and brain.
You might have both an X-ray and ultrasound as part of your testing to diagnose a neurogenic bladder. If your doctor orders an X-ray, it will likely be of your skull and spine. This can help look for any structural neurological problems, such as spinal tumors or lesions, that could be causing neurogenic bladder.
An ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves and can create detailed images of organs. This can help doctors see your bladder and the surrounding tissues. Your doctor can spot possible concerns, such as the thickness of bladder walls or any blockages to or from your bladder. The doctor can also see how full your bladder is and can be used to monitor if your bladder completely empties when you urinate.
These tests won’t be enough on their own to confirm a diagnosis of neurogenic bladder. Your doctor will likely order additional testing. This can include:
- a complete review of your medical history, including medications or surgeries you’ve had
- a CT scan for additional images
- cystoscopy (a procedure where the doctor inserts a thin tube into the urethra to check for blockages and kidney stones)
- bladder function tests called urodynamic studies
Urodynamic studies can give important information, such as how well urine flows through your urinary tract, how much urine your bladder can hold, the pressure inside your bladder, and how well your bladder empties.
The exact cost and coverage for your bladder imaging tests will depend on factors such as the specific images your doctor orders, the location of your tests, and your insurance plan. An X-ray and an ultrasound can each cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars without insurance.
If you have insurance, the price will vary based on specifics such as your deductible and copayment. You can contact your healthcare professional for more information.
If you don’t have insurance, you might be able to find a lower price by searching for online cost-saving programs or by checking to see if the hospital or radiology center you visit has financial programs. You can read more about finding healthcare without insurance here.
Neurogenic bladder is often a complication of another condition, which can be common for some conditions. This can include people with spina bifida, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and people who’ve experienced a stroke.
People with these conditions might have already talked to their doctors about symptoms to look out for and possible steps to take if they develop neurogenic bladder.
For others, neurogenic bladder can be a surprising complication. Either way, some symptoms can signal neurogenic bladder. If you begin to experience these symptoms, it’s best to seek medical intervention.
Symptoms can include:
- leaking small amounts of urine before or after urination
- urinary frequency
- urinary urgency
- incomplete bladder emptying
- urinary retention
- frequent urinary tract infections
Not everyone with a neurogenic bladder experiences every symptom. Some people only experience mild symptoms or infrequent symptoms. However, if you’ve noticed changes to how often or how much you urinate, or if you’re having sudden difficulty in controlling urination, it’s a good idea to talk with a healthcare professional.
Imaging tests are an important part of confirming a diagnosis of neurogenic bladder. Tests such as X-rays and ultrasounds can help your doctor gain information about your spine, brain, nerves, bladder walls, bladder capacity, and more.
It’s likely that you’ll also have additional tests such as cystoscopy and bladder function tests. The exact cost of these tests will depend on factors such as your location and your insurance plan.