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J Urol. 2006 Jul;176(1):200-4; discussion 204.

Incidence of primary and recurrent acute urinary retention between 1998 and 2003 in England.

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  • 1Clinical Effectiveness Unit, Royal College of Surgeons of England, 35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PE, UK.



We report how the incidence of primary and recurrent acute urinary retention changed in England between 1998 and 2003. In addition, we present data on changes with time in the use of prostatectomy after acute urinary retention and recurrent acute urinary retention.


Data were extracted from the Hospital Episode Statistics database of the Department of Health in England. Patients were included in the study if an International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision code for acute urinary retention or an operative procedure code for transurethral prostate resection was present in any diagnosis or procedure fields of the Hospital Episode Statistics database. A total of 165,527 men were identified to have been hospitalized with acute urinary retention in the study period.


The incidence of primary acute urinary retention was 3.06/1,000 men yearly. Acute urinary retention was spontaneous in 65.3% of cases. The incidence of acute urinary retention decreased from 3.17/1,000 men yearly in 1998 to 2.96/1,000 yearly in 2003. Surgical treatment following spontaneous acute urinary retention decreased 20% from 32% in 1998 to 26% in 2003. This trend coincided with a 20% increase in the rate of recurrent acute urinary retention.


The slight decrease in the incidence of primary acute urinary retention suggests that the shift away from surgical treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia has not resulted in an increase in acute urinary retention. The increase in recurrent acute urinary retention suggests that the observed decrease in surgery after acute urinary retention may have put more men at risk for acute urinary retention recurrence.

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