This article provides an overview of the clinical presentation, investigations, and treatment options for lower urinary tract and bowel dysfunction in patients with neurologic diseases.
The site of the neurologic lesion influences the pattern of lower urinary tract dysfunction. Antimuscarinic agents are first-line management for urinary incontinence; however, the side effect profile should be considered when prescribing them. β3-Receptor agonists are a promising alternative oral medication. Botulinum toxin injections into the detrusor have revolutionized the management of neurogenic detrusor overactivity.
Bowel dysfunction commonly presents as constipation and fecal incontinence. Gastrointestinal emergencies may arise, including intestinal pseudoobstruction, intussusception, volvulus, and stercoral ulcer (ulcer of the colon due to pressure and irritation resulting from severe, prolonged constipation). Bowel function tests in neurologic patients often show a combination of slow transit and anorectal dysfunction. Management for slow transit constipation includes bulking agents, softening agents, yogurt/probiotics, and prokinetic agents. Suppositories, botulinum toxin injections, and transanal irrigation are options for managing anorectal constipation.
Functions of the lower urinary tract and bowel are commonly affected in neurologic disease. Neurologists play an important role in assessing lower urinary tract and bowel symptoms in their patients and planning treatment strategies, often in collaboration with specialist teams.