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Urology. 2002 Nov;60(5 Suppl 1):7-12; discussion 12.

Definition and epidemiology of overactive bladder.

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Division of Urology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


The Standardisation Subcommittee of the International Continence Society (ICS) now recognizes overactive bladder (OAB) as a "symptom syndrome suggestive of lower urinary tract dysfunction." It is specifically defined as "urgency, with or without urge incontinence, usually with frequency and nocturia." The ICS definition was not formulated until January 2001 and was not formally approved until September 2001. Therefore, collection and discussion of the epidemiologic characteristics of OAB are somewhat hampered by the different definitions of this condition used by different investigators. Most communications that appeared before 2000 more often described characteristics of incontinence rather than OAB, and the estimates of OAB prevalence within those studies varied significantly. Until recently, little definite epidemiologic information was available on the prevalence and comorbidities of OAB. An important challenge in treating OAB is to increase awareness of this significant problem worldwide and to impress on other specialists and primary care physicians the importance of identifying this clinical problem and managing it in a way that will maximize quality-of-life improvement while minimizing morbidity.

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