The role of urodynamics in the surgical management of benign prostatic obstruction

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Purpose of review

Benign prostatic obstruction (BPO) is a common cause of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in elderly men. However, such symptoms are often caused by primary detrusor overactivity or underactivity. Surgical management where BPO is absent or merely incidental has a lower chance of success, and exposes the patient to the potential complications of surgery. This review discusses the diagnostic challenges facing this common presentation.

Recent findings

Most evidence comes from small, historical prospective cohort studies. A Cochrane review found only two studies that met the prespecified inclusion criteria. It concluded that urodynamics changed decision-making regarding surgery for LUTS but it was not possible to determine whether this impacted upon outcome. A systematic review of several noninvasive alternatives to urodynamics could not recommend any of them over urodynamic pressure-flow study assessment. Further research is currently in progress, the ‘UPSTREAM’ study, which is a randomized, multicentre trial. Men are randomized to undergo investigation with clinical evaluation and uroflowmetry, or to additionally receive urodynamics. The primary aim is to determine the impact of urodynamics on the assessment pathway.


Assessment of BPO involves determining whether it has a contributory role in individual patients. This is a crucial factor in outcome, as surgery can give poor results if the symptoms are principally caused by detrusor dysfunction (overactivity or underactivity). Urodynamics can help determine this if undertaken to a suitable standard. Further research will identify the precise role of this test modality.

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