Background: Urinary incontinence (UI) is a newly recognised problem in cystic fibrosis. Whilst prevalence is well documented, there are no reports of assessment and treatment of the problem.
Methods: A previous study reports the prevalence of UI in women with CF to be 51/75 (68%). Nineteen women subsequently requested help for the problem and were referred to a physiotherapist specialising in women's health. A digital assessment was performed to measure pelvic floor muscle strength and endurance. An individualised programme of pelvic floor muscle exercises (PFME) was taught based on the assessment. A questionnaire addressed issues of assessment and treatment.
Results: 12 women were assessed. The median (range) age, FEV1% predicted and BMI were 20.9 (19.3-46.1) years, 45.9 (14.8-82.7) and 20.5 (16.1-26.0), respectively. The median strength of the pelvic floor muscle was moderate (Oxford Scale grade 3) with a hold time (endurance) of 5 s. At reassessment (median time 13.1 weeks), there was an improvement in endurance (P = 0.04), with no change in strength. This was supported by a subjective improvement in symptoms. Patients found the exercises were difficult to perform, difficult to fit into their treatment programme and adherence was poor.
Conclusions: PFME are effective at improving endurance and reducing leakage over the short-term. Women are reluctant to be assessed and the CF team should provide support and encouragement with treatment. Long-term outcome and the mechanisms of UI in this group of patients need further evaluation.
Copyright 2003 European Cystic Fibrosis Society