Background: Although available evidence relating to its effectiveness is weak, acupuncture is used as an alternative therapy for stress urinary incontinence. We report a protocol of a randomized controlled trial using electroacupuncture (the passing of a weak current between inserted acupuncture needles) to treat women with pure stress urinary incontinence.
Methods/design: This is a large-scale multicenter subject-blinded randomized controlled trial. A total of 500 women with pure stress urinary incontinence will be randomly assigned to two groups: a treatment group and a control group. The treatment group will receive electroacupuncture with deep needling at acupuncture points BL33 and BL35. The control group will receive sham electroacupuncture with non-penetrating needling at sham locations for the acupuncture points of BL33 and BL35. Participants will be given three sessions a week for 6 weeks. A 24-week-long follow-up will be conducted. The primary outcome will be the change in amount of urine leakage at the sixth week from a baseline measured by a 1-h pad test. The secondary outcomes include: the 72-h incontinence episode frequency based on a 72-h bladder diary; the score of International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire-Urinary Incontinence Short Form; the degree of urinary incontinence based on a 72-h bladder diary; self-assessment of the therapeutic effect; weekly consumption of pads; application of other treatments for stress urinary incontinence; and subgroup analysis stratified by incontinence severity. The safety of electroacupuncture will also be assessed.
Discussion: This trial will help to identify whether electroacupuncture is effective for stress urinary incontinence, and, if so, whether it is a therapeutic effect rather than a placebo effect.
Trial registration: Clinical Trials.gov NCT01784172.