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J Urol. 2001 Apr;165(4):1193-8.

Percutaneous afferent neuromodulation for the refractory overactive bladder: results of a multicenter study.

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  • 1Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, USA.



More than 20 million Americans have an overactive bladder, the predominant symptoms being frequency, urgency, urge incontinence and pelvic pain. While the etiology is not completely understood, most investigators believe the causes to be many and the pelvic floor to be intimately related. Whatever the etiology, traditional therapies, including dietary manipulation, bladder drill, medications and physical therapy, are often poorly tolerated and/or ineffective. We report a prospective, multicenter clinical trial that was undertaken to determine the safety and efficacy of percutaneous peripheral afferent nerve stimulation for treatment of refractive overactive bladder and/or pelvic floor dysfunction.


A total of 53 patients with overactive bladders, in whom all traditional therapy failed, were enrolled in 1 of 5 sites within the United States. Patients received weekly percutaneous electrical stimulations via a 34 gauge needle placed near the tibial nerve 3 finger breadths above the ankle. Urodynamic studies, detailed voiding diaries, quality of life surveys, and incontinence impact questionnaires were completed before, during and after the study.


Of the patients with a mean age of 57.4 years 89% (47 of 53) completed the 12-week study. A total of 71% of patients were classified as treatment successes by the investigators and were started on long-term treatment. On average patients noticed a 25% reduction in mean daytime and 21% reduction in mean nighttime voiding frequencies (p <0.05). Urge incontinence was reduced by an average of 35% (p <0.05). Statistically significant improvements were noted in selective pain and quality of life indexes. No significant adverse events related to treatment were noted in any patients.


Percutaneous peripheral afferent nerve stimulation offers a safe, minimally invasive and effective treatment for managing refractive overactive bladder and/or pelvic floor dysfunction.

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