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J Urol. 1999 Feb;161(2):553-7.

The diagnosis of interstitial cystitis revisited: lessons learned from the National Institutes of Health Interstitial Cystitis Database study.

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  • 1University of Pennsylvania, Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia, USA.



The lack of a precise working definition of interstitial cystitis may have resulted in the de facto use of the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) "research" definition by clinicians. We evaluated these strict criteria in light of the broader inclusion criteria for patients evaluated in the Interstitial Cystitis Database study to determine their utility in clinical practice as a useful basis for the diagnosis of interstitial cystitis.


A total of 379 women who completed screening for the Interstitial Cystitis Database before January 1, 1996 met the basic criteria of urinary frequency, urgency or pain for at least 6 months in duration without a diagnosable etiology. Of these patients 148 underwent cystoscopy and hydrodistention of the bladder as a part of the evaluation. All patients were followed for a minimum of 1 year. Comparisons were made between patients judged to have a clinical diagnosis of interstitial cystitis and those who met the NIDDK research definition of the syndrome.


Almost 90% of patients potentially meeting NIDDK criteria are believed by experienced clinicians to have interstitial cystitis, confirming the research value of these criteria in defining a homogeneous population for study. However, strict application of NIDDK criteria would have misdiagnosed more than 60% of patients regarded by researchers as definitely or likely to have interstitial cystitis.


The NIDDK criteria are too restrictive to be used by clinicians as the diagnostic definition of interstitial cystitis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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