Context: The focus of clinical understanding and management of male storage lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) has shifted from the prostate to the bladder. This is mirrored by an increasing body of experimental evidence suggesting that the bladder is the central organ in the pathogenesis of LUTS.
Objective: A systematic review of the literature available on pathophysiologic aspects of storage LUTS.
Evidence acquisition: Medline was searched for the period ending December 2008 for studies on human and animal tissue exploring possible functional and structural alterations underlying bladder dysfunction. Further studies were chosen on the basis of manual searches of reference lists and review papers.
Evidence synthesis: Numerous recent publications on LUTS pathophysiology were identified. They were grouped into studies exploring abnormalities on urothelial/suburothelial, muscular, or central levels.
Conclusions: Studies revealed both structural and functional alterations in bladders from patients with LUTS symptoms or animals with experimentally induced bladder dysfunction. In particular, the urothelium and the suburothelial space, containing afferent nerve fibres and interstitial cells, have been found to form a functional unit that is essential in the process of bladder function. Various imbalances within this suburothelial complex have been identified as significant contributors to the generation of storage LUTS, along with potential abnormalities of central function.