Logo of jnnpsycJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and PsychiatryVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1999 Nov; 67(5): 658–660.
PMCID: PMC1736610

Urinary function in elderly people with and without leukoaraiosis: relation to cognitive and gait function


OBJECTIVES—To investigate urinary function in the elderly with and without white matter lesion (leukoaraiosis) in relation to cognitive and gait function.
METHODS—Sixty three subjects were examined, with mean age 73 (range 62 to 86 years). Subjects with brainstem stroke or with large hemispheric lesions were excluded. Spin echo 1.5 T MRI images were graded from 0 to 4 for severity of white matter lesions. Urinary function was assessed by detailed questionnaire and urodynamic studies were performed in 33 of the subjects, including measurement of postmicturition residuals, water cystometry, and sphincter EMG. A mini mental state examination (MMSE) and examination of gait was also performed and compared with urinary function.
RESULTS—Urodynamic studies showed subjects with grade 1-4 white matter lesions to have detrusor hyperreflexia more commonly (82%) than those with grade 0 white matter lesions (9%) (p<0.05), indicating that leukoaraiosis was a factor associated with geriatric urinary dysfunction. Postmicturition residuals, low compliance, detrusor-sphincter dyssynergia, and uninhibited sphincter relaxation were also more common in grade 1-4 than in grade 0 white matter lesions, though the difference was not significant. In grade 1 white matter lesions urinary dysfunction (urge urinary incontinence) was more common than cognitive (MMSE<19) (p<0.05) and gait disorders (slowness, short step/festination, and loss of postural reflex) (p<0.05), which increased together with the grade of white matter lesions (p<0.05).
CONCLUSIONS—Urinary dysfunction is common and probably the early sign in elderly people with leukoaraiosis on MRI.

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