Variation in bowel and bladder continence across US spina bifida programs: A descriptive study

Kurt A. Freeman, Heidi Castillo, Jonathan Castillo, Tiebin Liu, Michael Schechter, John S. Wiener, Judy Thibadeau, Elisabeth Ward, Timothy Brei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: Continence is low in individuals with spina bifida, but published prevalence varies markedly across studies. The objective of this study was to examine bladder and bowel continence among patients served by multidisciplinary clinics participating in the National Spina Bifida Patient Registry and to examine whether variation in prevalence exists across clinics. METHODS: Data were obtained from patients 5 years and older from March 2009 to December 2012. Data were gathered at clinic visits using standardized definitions. RESULTS: Data from 3252 individuals were included. Only 40.8% of participants were continent of urine; 43% were continent of stool. Bladder and bowel continence differed by spina bifida type, with those with myelomeningocele having significantly lower reported prevalence of continence than those with other forms of spina bifida. Bladder and bowel continence varied across registry sites. Adjustment based on demographic and condition-specific variables did not make substantive differences in prevalence observed. CONCLUSION: Less than half of spina bifida patients served in multidisciplinary clinics report bladder or bowel continence. Variability in prevalence was observed across clinics. Further research is needed to examine if clinic-specific variables (e.g., types of providers, types of interventions used) account for the observed variation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-241
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2017


  • Bowel and bladder impairment
  • Continence
  • Neurogenic bladder
  • Registry
  • Spina bifida
  • Urologic management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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