Management of chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome: a systematic review and network meta-analysis

JAMA. 2011 Jan 5;305(1):78-86. doi: 10.1001/jama.2010.1913.


Context: Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) is common, but trial evidence is conflicting and therapeutic options are controversial.

Objective: To conduct a systematic review and network meta-analysis comparing mean symptom scores and treatment response among α-blockers, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, other active drugs (phytotherapy, glycosaminoglycans, finasteride, and neuromodulators), and placebo.

Data sources: We searched MEDLINE from 1949 and EMBASE from 1974 to November 16, 2010, using the PubMed and Ovid search engines.

Study selection: Randomized controlled trials comparing drug treatments in CP/CPPS patients.

Data extraction: Two reviewers independently extracted mean symptom scores, quality-of-life measures, and response to treatment between treatment groups. Standardized mean difference and random-effects methods were applied for pooling continuous and dichotomous outcomes, respectively. A longitudinal mixed regression model was used for network meta-analysis to indirectly compare treatment effects.

Data synthesis: Twenty-three of 262 studies identified were eligible. Compared with placebo, α-blockers were associated with significant improvement in symptoms with standardized mean differences in total symptom, pain, voiding, and quality-of-life scores of -1.7 (95% confidence interval [CI], -2.8 to -0.6), -1.1 (95% CI, -1.8 to -0.3), -1.4 (95% CI, -2.3 to -0.5), and -1.0 (95% CI, -1.8 to -0.2), respectively. Patients receiving α-blockers or anti-inflammatory medications had a higher chance of favorable response compared with placebo, with pooled RRs of 1.6 (95% CI, 1.1-2.3) and 1.8 (95% CI, 1.2-2.6), respectively. Contour-enhanced funnel plots suggested the presence of publication bias for smaller studies of α-blocker therapies. The network meta-analysis suggested benefits of antibiotics in decreasing total symptom scores (-9.8; 95% CI, -15.1 to -4.6), pain scores (-4.4; 95% CI, -7.0 to -1.9), voiding scores (-2.8; 95% CI, -4.1 to -1.6), and quality-of-life scores (-1.9; 95% CI, -3.6 to -0.2) compared with placebo. Combining α-blockers and antibiotics yielded the greatest benefits compared with placebo, with corresponding decreases of -13.8 (95% CI, -17.5 to -10.2) for total symptom scores, -5.7 (95% CI, -7.8 to -3.6) for pain scores, -3.7 (95% CI, -5.2 to -2.1) for voiding, and -2.8 (95% CI, -4.7 to -0.9) for quality-of-life scores.

Conclusions: α-Blockers, antibiotics, and combinations of these therapies appear to achieve the greatest improvement in clinical symptom scores compared with placebo. Anti-inflammatory therapies have a lesser but measurable benefit on selected outcomes. However, beneficial effects of α-blockers may be overestimated because of publication bias.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pelvic Pain / drug therapy*
  • Placebos
  • Prostatitis / drug therapy*
  • Publication Bias
  • Quality of Life
  • Syndrome
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urination


  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Placebos