Possible role of hyposensitivity of C-fiber afferents at the proximal urethra in the development of urge urinary incontinence in patients with detrusor overactivity

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The aim of the present study was to investigate associations between urethral sensation and urge urinary incontinence (UUI) in patients with and without detrusor overactivity (DO).


The medical records of 80 consecutive patients who underwent filling cystometry and urethral current perception threshold (CPT) tests were examined retrospectively. Following the exclusion of 4 patients not eligible for analysis, patients were classified into neurogenic DO, idiopathic DO, or DO-negative groups based on neurological and cystometric findings (n = 30, 12, and 34, respectively). Eleven DO-negative patients were defined as normal controls on cystometrograms (CMG) using the following exclusion criteria: bladder compliance <12.5 mL/cmH2O, volume >275 mL at first filling sensation, and comorbidities possibly affecting lower urinary tract function. Thus, 53 patients were finally included in the study. Proximal urethral CPT was evaluated with intraurethral square-wave stimulation at 3 Hz to activate C-fiber afferents.


Median CPT was higher in neurogenic and idiopathic DO than in the normal CMG group (11.3 and 9.0 vs. 2.8 mA, respectively; P < .05), as well as in patients with UUI (n = 19) compared with non-UUI patients (n = 34; 12.5 vs. 5.4 mA, respectively; P < .05). The proportion of UUI patients was significantly greater in the DO-positive groups than in the normal CMG group (P < .05). CPTs were not associated with bladder capacity at the first filling sensation (r = 0.11).


Hyposensitive C-fibers of the proximal urethra may contribute to the development of urodynamic DO as well as UUI in patients complaining of lower urinary tract symptoms.

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