Neuromodulation for overactive bladder

Nat Rev Urol. 2013 Sep;10(9):513-21. doi: 10.1038/nrurol.2013.143. Epub 2013 Jul 2.


Overactive bladder (OAB) affects millions of people worldwide yet first-line treatments are often poorly tolerated and compliance rates are low. Neuromodulation works via afferent nerve modulation and offers a minimally invasive and reversible alternative treatment option for patients with OAB who have failed first-line therapy. Neuromodulation has revolutionized the management of OAB and is now well established as a safe and effective treatment for those refractory to conservative treatments. Multiple neuroanatomical pathways have been described for sacral neuromodulation including the S3 nerve root, pudendal nerve and tibial nerve. The S3 nerve root is currently the main treatment target and has the most long-term data on safety and efficacy to support its use. However, studies on neuromodulation at the pudendal nerve or posterior tibial nerve have been positive and their role in treatment continues to evolve. Most urologists who are experienced in voiding dysfunction can become proficient in each technique. Patient selection, surgical techniques and postoperative management differ slightly between approaches and urologists should familiarize themselves with these differences. Treatment of OAB should progress from the least to most invasive modality, and neuromodulation provides an attractive option owing to its minimally invasive approach, tolerability, positive outcomes and reversibility.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urinary Bladder, Overactive / diagnosis
  • Urinary Bladder, Overactive / physiopathology*
  • Urinary Bladder, Overactive / therapy*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents