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J Urol. 1996 Jun;155(6):1971-4.

The American Urological Association symptom score in the evaluation of men with lower urinary tract symptoms: at 2 years of followup, does it work?

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  • 1Department of Urology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.



The American Urological Association (AUA) benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) guidelines committee established criteria for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with BPH. In a prospective study we determined the usefulness of these guidelines in 145 previously untreated patients with BPH symptoms.


Patients were evaluated initially by AUA symptom score, digital rectal examination, urinalysis, serum creatinine and prostate specific antigen. Based on symptom score, patients with mild symptoms were treated with watchful waiting, while those with moderate and severe symptoms were offered watchful waiting, finasteride alpha-blockers, or laser or transurethral prostatectomy. Minimum followup was 2 years. Patients were offered a change in therapy if they had an intolerable adverse event or no improvement. Analysis included maintenance of therapy at 1 and 2 years, number of office visits and diagnostic tests performed. In addition, all patients were queried regarding which factors influenced their therapeutic choice.


Of 37 patients with mild symptoms 31 (81%) remained on watchful waiting at 2 years and 6 advanced to medical therapy. Among 71 patients with moderate symptoms 9 of 15 (60%) remained on watchful waiting, 27 of 36 (75%) remained on alpha-blockers and 12 of 20 (60%) remained on finasteride at 2 years. Of the 37 patients with severe symptoms 1 of 5 (20%) remained on watchful waiting, 1 of 6 (17%) remained on finasteride and 9 of 15 (60%) remained on alpha-blockers, while 3 of 5 (60%) who underwent laser prostatectomy and all 6 (100%) who underwent transurethral prostatectomy received no further treatment. At 2 years 83% of the men who selected either finasteride or alpha-blockers as either the primary or secondary therapeutic choice were still on medications. Most patients with mild (61%) or moderate (51%) symptoms cited adverse events as the predominant concern when selecting therapeutic options. In contrast, efficacy was the overriding concern (70%) in patients with more severe symptoms.


Overall, with these guidelines and the AUA symptom score 110 men (76%) were still on original therapy at 1 year and 99 (68%) at 2 years. Additionally, 31 patients (21%) changed to an alternative, nonoperative therapy. These results suggest that the AUA BPH guidelines provide a rational and balanced approach for evaluation and management of patients with symptomatic BPH. Patients can reasonably expect to remain on the initial therapeutic option for at least 2 years.

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