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Age Ageing. 1993 Mar;22(2):125-31.

Subtypes of overactive bladder in old age.

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Department of Surgery, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden.


The prevalence of urinary incontinence increases dramatically with age and is mainly related to urge incontinence and bladder overactivity. It is a reasonable hypothesis that bladder overactivity primarily results from a disturbed central neuronal control of the lower urinary tract. Different sites and extents of neurogenic lesions or dysfunctions should result in different functional and urodynamic characteristics. We have recently identified three distinct urodynamic subtypes of bladder overactivity, and we report a retrospective study of the distribution of these subtypes in elderly patients. Eight hundred and fourteen patients aged 65 years or older with symptoms of urgency and/or urge incontinence underwent cystometry and the ice-water test. Two hundred and sixty-seven of them (33%) presented an overactive bladder. The prevalence of overactive bladder was constant up to the age of 65. A marked increase above this age was almost entirely ascribed to an increase of the so-called uninhibited overactive bladder subtype. This dysfunction occurred in 70% of the older patients. Patients with this condition have a coordinated reflex micturition at normal bladder volumes, but an abnormal perception of bladder fullness and lack of voluntary inhibitory control. This constellation of symptoms and signs indicates a suprapontine dysfunction.

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