Detrusor overactivity is a well-recognized and distressing medical condition affecting both men and women, with a significant prevalence in the population and with a higher incidence rate in people older than 70 years. This pathological condition is characterized by irritative symptoms: urinary urgency, with or without incontinence, and urinary frequency, often seriously compromising the quality of life of the people who have it. The complaint of these symptoms is defined by the International Continence Society (www.continet.org) as "overactive bladder." Many neurological patients experience irritative symptoms of the lower urinary tract related to their disease, and this condition drastically limits their social life. Various drugs have been introduced in therapy protocols to treat neurogenic detrusor overactivity; however, in many cases, the outcomes of these treatments have proven to be unsatisfactory. This fact is probably related to the incomplete understanding of the pathophysiological aspects of detrusor overactivity. Recent studies suggest the possible role in the detrusor overactivity pathogenesis of bladder receptors, afferent pathways, and spinal cord interneurons; consequently, the modulation of bladder receptor and/or spinal cord centers activity has been proposed as a possible approach to control involuntary detrusor contractions, using drugs capable of acting on bladder afferent pathways.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of gabapentin, an anticonvulsive agent used by neurologists in the treatment of epilepsy and neurogenic pain, in the treatment of detrusor overactivity of neurogenic origin.
Sixteen patients affected by neurogenic overactive bladder were enrolled in the study. The clinical outcomes were assessed by symptomatic score evaluations, voiding diary, and urodynamic test before and after 31 days of gabapentin treatment.
The preliminary results showed significant modifications of urodynamic indexes, particularly of the detrusor overactivity, whereas the symptomatic score evaluation and the voiding diary data demonstrated a significant lowering of the irritative symptoms. Furthermore, we did not record significant adverse effects and no patient interrupted the drug treatment.
These data support the rationale that detrusor overactivity may be controlled by modulating the afferent input from the bladder and the excitability of the sacral reflex center and suggest a novel method to treat overactive bladder patients.