Objective: To compare acupuncture treatment for overactive bladder with urge incontinence with a placebo acupuncture treatment.
Methods: Eighty-five women enrolled in this randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Women were randomly assigned to either receive an acupuncture treatment expected to improve their bladder symptoms, or a placebo acupuncture treatment designed to promote relaxation. They underwent cystometric testing, completed a 3-day voiding diary, and completed the urinary distress inventory and incontinence impact questionnaire, validated quality-of-life inventories, before and after 4 weekly acupuncture treatments. The primary endpoint was number of incontinent episodes over 3 days. Secondary endpoints included voiding frequency and urgency, cystometric bladder capacity, maximum voided volume, and the urinary distress inventory and incontinence impact questionnaire symptom scores.
Results: Seventy-four women completed all aspects of the study. Women in both treatment and placebo groups had significant decreases in number of incontinent episodes (59% for treatment, 40% for placebo) without a significant difference in the change between the groups. Women in the treatment group had a 14% reduction in urinary frequency (P = .013), a 30% reduction in the proportion of voids associated with urgency (P = .016), and a 13% increase in both maximum voided volume and maximum cystometric capacity (P = .01). Both groups also had an improvement in the urinary distress inventory and incontinence impact questionnaire scores (54% decrease for treatment, 30% decrease for placebo, P < .001 for the difference in change between the groups).
Conclusion: Women who received 4 weekly bladder-specific acupuncture treatments had significant improvements in bladder capacity, urgency, frequency, and quality-of-life scores as compared with women who received placebo acupuncture treatments.
Level of evidence: I.