Introduction: The complications of neurogenic dysfunction of the urinary bladder still constitute an important cause of death among spinal cord injury patients.
Aim of study: The aim of this study was to assess transcutaneous electrical stimulation of the urinary bladder as a treatment for micturition disorders in patients after spinal cord injury (SCI) over 2 years of follow-up.
Material and methods: The study involved 28 patients (22 men and 6 women) with neurogenic bladder dysfunction following a spinal cord injury. The patients were 16 to 68 years old and 2 to 26 months since their spinal cord injury. The therapeutic programme involved 30 sessions of electrical stimulation of the urinary bladder, five sessions per week. The outcomes of electrical stimulation were assessed by comparing the results of urodynamic examinations performed before treatment, immediately on completion of the treatment and at 24 months post-treatment.
Results: Transcutaneous electrical stimulation of the urinary bladder produced a significant increase in bladder capacity (p = 0.001), which was higher by a mean of 117.7 ml immediately on completion of the treatment and a mean of 101.6 ml (p = 0.018) two years after the treatment. The amount of post-void residual urine in the bladder decreased by a mean of 81.9 ml (p = 0.007) immediately after completion of the treatment and a mean of 76.9 ml (p = 0.011) two years after the treatment. Opening pressure was lower by a mean of 3.1 cm H₂O (p > 0.05) immediately on completion of the electrical stimulation treatment. Intravesical pressure at maximum flow decreased in 19 patients (68%) by a mean of 11.6 cm H₂O (p > 0.05). At the late follow-up assessment, opening pressure was lower in 17 patients (68%) by a mean of 6.7 cm H₂O. Two patients demonstrated the micturition phase, which had been absent at baseline and immediately after completion of the treatment. Opening pressure in the entire group was lower compared to baseline by 2.9 cm H₂O (p > 0.05). Also in the late follow-up assessment, intravesical pressure at maximum flow was reduced in 21 patients (79%) by a mean of 9.6 cm H₂O (p > 0.05). The maximum voiding velocity increased by a mean of 3.8 ml/s (p = 0.008) immediately after treatment completion and by a mean of 3.6 ml/s (p < 0.001) at two years post-treatment.
Conclusions: Transcutaneous electrical stimulation of the neurogenic bladder in patients following spinal cord injury improves lower urinary tract function. Improved urinary tract function is seen two years following completion of the electrical stimulation treatment.