Neurourological insights into the etiology of genitourinary pain in men

J Urol. 1999 Mar;161(3):903-8.


Purpose: Pelvic pain remains a challenging urological problem. Because antimicrobial therapy is often unsuccessful for relieving symptoms, it is reasonable to question whether pelvic pain is the result of microbiological versus functional pelvic disease. We analyzed clinical and urodynamic findings to evaluate the role of pelvic floor dysfunction in patients with pelvic pain.

Materials and methods: We retrospectively evaluated history, physical examination and urodynamic studies in 103 men with an average age of 47 years who presented with pelvic pain between August 1994 and August 1997. In all patients microbiological tests were negative before study entry.

Results: The reported locations of pain were the prostate and/or perineal region in 45.6% of cases, scrotum and/or testis in 38.8%, penis in 5.8%, bladder in 5.8%, and lower abdomen and lower back in 1.9% each. Previous treatment consisted of 1 to 12 courses of antibiotics in the preceding 6 to 36 months. In 88.3% of the patients there was pathological tenderness of the striated muscle with poor to absent pelvic floor function. Urodynamics were performed in 84 cases. Cystometry was normal except for decreased compliance in 5 patients. Abnormal findings were mostly evident in the coordination of voiding and in dynamic sphincter-pelvic floor activity. Average sphincter pressure was increased to 104.9 cm. water in 72.6% of the patients, average peak urine flow was decreased to 9.9 ml. per second in 61.9% and functional urethral length was increased to greater than 35 mm. in 79.8%. Urethral profile pattern was dysfunctional, obstructed, and combined dysfunctional and obstructed in 52.4, 11.9 and 21.4% of the cases, respectively, while in 88.1% urethral sensitivity was minimally or markedly increased.

Conclusions: Since activity is a reflection of neural control, the apparent association of pelvic floor dysfunction with pelvic pain raises the probability of a primary or secondary central nervous system breakdown in the regulation of pelvic floor function. This hypothesis is supported by the improvement in symptoms caused by therapy aimed at modulating the pelvic floor, such as biofeedback, medication and sacral anterior root stimulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Male Urogenital Diseases / complications*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System / physiopathology*
  • Pelvic Pain / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies