Urinary Disorders Q 14 - Gyan Darpan : Learning Portal
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Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Urinary Disorders Q 14

A 27-year old client, who became paraplegic after a swimming accident, is experiencing autonomic dysreflexia. Which condition is the most common cause of autonomic dysreflexia?
    A. Upper respiratory infection
    B. Incontinence
    C. Bladder distention
    D. Diarrhea

Correct Answer: C. Bladder distention

Autonomic dysreflexia is a potentially life-threatening complication of spinal cord injury, occurring from obstruction of the urinary system or bowel. In about 85% of cases, this stimulus is from a urological source such as a UTI, a distended bladder, or a clogged Foley catheter. The etiology is a spinal cord injury, usually above the T6 level. It is unlikely to occur if the level is below T10. The higher the injury level, the greater the severity of the cardiovascular dysfunction.

Option A: An URI could obstruct the respiratory system, but not the urinary or bowel system. The severity and frequency of autonomic dysreflexia episodes are also associated with the completeness of the spinal cord injury. Patients usually develop autonomic dysreflexia one month to one year after their injury. However, it has also been described in the first days or weeks after the original trauma.
Option B: The most common stimuli are distention of a hollow viscus, such as the bladder or rectum. Pressure ulcers or other injuries such as fractures and urinary tract infections are also common causes. Sexual intercourse can also be a stimulus.
Option D: Incontinence and diarrhea don’t result in obstruction of the urinary system or bowel, respectively. In an intact autonomic system, this increased blood pressure stimulates the carotid sinus leading to a parasympathetic outflow slowing the heart rate via vagal stimulation and causing diffuse vasodilation to balance the original increased sympathetic response. However, in the setting of a spinal cord injury, the normal compensatory parasympathetic response cannot travel below the level of the spinal cord injury, and generalized vasoconstriction continues below the level of injury leading to systemic hypertension.

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