Electrical stimulation for urinary incontinence in women: A systematic review

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Background: Electrical stimulation is commonly recommended to treat urinary incontinence in women. It includes several techniques that can be used to improve stress, urge, and mixed symptoms. However, the magnitude of the alleged benefits is not completely established. Objectives: To determine the effects of electrical stimulation in women with symptoms or urodynamic diagnoses of stress, urge, and mixed incontinence. Search Strategy: Our review included articles published between January 1980 and January 2012. We used the search terms "urinary incontinence", "electrical stimulation", "intravaginal", "tibial nerve" and "neuromodulation" for studies including female patients. Selection Criteria: We evaluated randomized trials that included electrical stimulation in at least one arm of the trial, to treat women with urinary incontinence. Data Collection and Analysis: Two reviewers independently assessed the data from the trials, for inclusion or exclusion, and methodological analysis. Main Results: A total of 30 randomized clinical trials were included. Most of the trials involved intravaginal electrical stimulation. Intravaginal electrical stimulation showed effectiveness in treating urge urinary incontinence, but reported contradictory data regarding stress and mixed incontinence. Tibial-nerve stimulation showed promising results in randomized trials with a short follow-up period. Sacral-nerve stimulation yielded interesting results in refractory patients. Conclusions: Tibial-nerve and intravaginal stimulation have shown effectiveness in treating urge urinary incontinence. Sacral-nerve stimulation provided benefits in refractory cases. Presently available data provide no support for the use of intravaginal electrical stimulation to treat stress urinary incontinence in women. Further randomized trials are necessary to determine the magnitude of benefits, with long-term follow-up, and the effectiveness of other electrical-stimulation therapies.




Schreiner, L., dos Santos, T. G., de Souza, A. B. A., Nygaard, C. C., & da Silva Filho, I. G. (2013). Electrical stimulation for urinary incontinence in women: A systematic review. International Braz J Urol. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1677-5538.IBJU.2013.04.02

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