Urinary bladder irritation or stimulation is the major trigger of AD following SCI (McGuire & Kumar, 1986; Linsenmeyer et al. 1996; Giannantoni et al. 1998; Teasell et al. 2000; Mathias & Frankel 2002). A bladder management program and continuous urological follow-up are important elements of the medical care of individuals with SCI (Waites et al. 1993a; Vaidyanathan et al. 1994; Vaidyanathan et al. 2004). An established bladder management program with intermittent catheterization or an indwelling Foley catheter allows individuals with SCI to plan for bladder emptying when convenient or necessary (Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine 2006). However, there are no studies that specifically assess the effect of bladder management programs on the rate of occurrence of autonomic dysreflexia.
During the last decade, urological follow-up including annual urodynamic evaluations and cystoscopy (depending on the bladder management program), have decreased the frequency of urinary tract infections and the development of renal failure in individuals with SCI (Waites et al. 1993a; Waites et al. 1993b; DeVivo et al. 1999). However, conservative management is not always successful and alternative strategies (e.g. application of Botulinum toxin, capsaicin, anticholinergics, sacral denervation and bladder and urethral sphincter surgery) are sometimes needed to decrease afferent stimulation from the urinary bladder to prevent development of AD. In addition, urodynamic procedures and cystoscopy are associated with significant activation of urinary bladder afferents and have the potential to trigger AD (Linsenmeyer et al. 1996; Dykstra et al. 1987; Snow et al. 1978; Chancellor et al. 1993) and therefore also require strategies to reduce afferent stimulation during those procedures.