The use of alpha1-adrenoceptor antagonists in lower urinary tract symptoms: beyond benign prostatic hyperplasia

Urology. 2003 Sep;62(3 Suppl 1):34-41. doi: 10.1016/s0090-4295(03)00472-2.


The first empirical use of alpha(1)-adrenoceptor antagonists in urology occurred about 25 years ago in patients with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) suggestive of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or LUTS/BPH. Today, many randomized, controlled trials have provided evidence for the efficacy and tolerability of alpha(1)-adrenoceptor antagonists in LUTS/BPH, and they are the most frequently used initial treatment option for this cause of LUTS. For many years, alpha(1)-adrenoceptor antagonists have also been used empirically in other types of lower urinary tract dysfunction (LUTD), such as chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) and neurogenic LUTD (NLUTD). Several investigators have shown that alpha(1)-adrenoceptor antagonists may be useful in patients with CP/CPPS. This was recently confirmed by a 6-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study evaluating the efficacy and safety of tamsulosin in 58 CP/CPPS patients. Further well-designed and -powered research into the use of alpha(1)-adrenoceptor antagonists in patients with CP/CPPS is currently ongoing. Several small-scale predominantly open-label studies have suggested that alpha(1)-adrenoceptor antagonists may be of benefit in patients with NLUTD. Data from 2 recent large-scale studies with tamsulosin in patients with NLUTD caused by suprasacral spinal cord injury suggest that long-term tamsulosin treatment improves bladder storage and emptying and also reduces symptoms of autonomic dysreflexia. Tamsulosin has also shown promise in ameliorating (early) storage symptoms and urinary retention associated with transurethral microwave thermotherapy, external-beam radiotherapy, and brachytherapy. In BPH patients presenting with the ultimate form of LUTS-acute urinary retention-treatment with tamsulosin before catheter removal results in a higher success rate of catheter-free voiding. Finally, it seems that alpha(1)-adrenoceptor antagonists may reduce the occurrence of urinary retention after (general) surgery. We can therefore conclude that alpha(1)-adrenoceptor antagonists, such as tamsulosin, may be useful for treating men with LUTS beyond BPH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pelvic Pain / etiology
  • Pelvic Pain / prevention & control
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / complications*
  • Prostatitis / complications
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Sulfonamides / therapeutic use
  • Tamsulosin
  • Urologic Diseases / etiology
  • Urologic Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Urologic Surgical Procedures / adverse effects


  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Sulfonamides
  • Tamsulosin