Objective: Owing to evolution in treatment, the average life expectancy of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) has increased. This has been followed by an increase in urological complications such as urinary incontinence. As stress incontinence occurs during exercise, it may have a negative effect on the implementation of respiratory physiotherapy. The purpose of this study is to determine the prevalence of urinary incontinence and its effect on the quality of life and physiotherapy in a population with CF.
Materials and methods: Questionnaires were used to determine the prevalence of incontinence in patients of the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic of the University Hospital in Brussels. Two different surveys were used, depending on the age of the patients (< 12 or ≥ 12 years). The different characteristics of incontinence were emphasized.
Results: Questionnaires were completed by 122 participants aged 6-59 years, showing an overall prevalence of 27% for urinary incontinence. Mainly adults reported urinary incontinence, with a prevalence of 11% in men and 68% in women aged 12 and above. The amount of urinary leakage was usually only a few drops and it was mainly triggered by coughing. Many of the participants had never mentioned this symptom to anyone.
Conclusions: Doctors' and physical therapists' attention should be drawn to the fact that urinary incontinence is part of the complication spectrum of CF. A quarter of the study population refrained from coughing up phlegm and from physiotherapy. It is important to actively question and inform about this problem, to enable its detection and treatment.
Keywords: Cystic fibrosis; physiotherapy; prevalence; quality of life; urinary incontinence.