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J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2013 Apr;14(4):270-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2012.10.021. Epub 2012 Nov 30.

A feasibility study of transcutaneous posterior tibial nerve stimulation for bladder and bowel dysfunction in elderly adults in residential care.

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  • 1Institute for Applied Health Research, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland.



To assess preliminary effects of a program of transcutaneous posterior tibial nerve stimulation (TPTNS) on lower urinary tract symptoms and number of episodes of urinary and fecal incontinence in older adults in residential care homes and the feasibility of a full-scale randomized trial.


Pilot randomized single-blind, placebo-controlled trial.


Seven residential care homes and 3 sheltered accommodation complexes in the United Kingdom.


Thirty care home residents aged 65 and older with urinary or bowel symptoms and/or incontinence.


Twelve 30-minute sessions of TPTNS or sham stimulation (placebo).


Lower urinary tract symptoms using American Urological Society Symptom Index, urinary incontinence using International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire-Short Form (ICIQ-SF), postvoid residual urine volumes using portable bladder scanning, bowel symptoms and fecal incontinence using selected ICIQ questions.


Total American Urological Society Symptom Index scores improved, showing a median reduction of 7 (interquartile range [IQR] -8 to -3) in the TPTNS group and a median increase in the sham stimulation (placebo) group of 1 (IQR -1 to 4) (Mann-Whitney U 16.5000, Z -3.742, P < .001). Total ICIQ-SF scores improved by a median of 2 (IQR -6 to 0) in the TPTNS group and 0 points (IQR -3 to 3) in the sham stimulation group (Mann-Whitney U 65.000, Z -1.508, P = .132). Significant reduction was found in postvoid residual urine of 55 mL in the TPTNS group (t = -2.215, df 11.338, P = .048). Bowel urgency improved in 27% of the TPTNS group compared with 8% of the sham group (χ(2) 2.395, df 2, P > .302), fecal leakage improved in 47% of the TPTNS group compared with 23% of the sham group (χ(2) 4.480, df 2, P > .106); however, these differences were not significant. No adverse effects were reported by older adults or care staff.


TPTNS is safe and acceptable with evidence of potential benefit for bladder and bowel dysfunction in older male and female residents of care homes. Data support the feasibility of a substantive trial of TPTNS in this population.

Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier Inc.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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