Nocturnal enuresis

Br J Urol. 1995 Apr;75(4):427-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410x.1995.tb07259.x.


Nocturnal enuresis is common. Although its aetiology remains unclear recent evidence increasingly supports the lack of a normal nocturnal increase in ADH leading to nocturnal polyuria exceeding functional bladder capacity. Sleep patterns are probably normal although an arousal disorder might be a factor. Treatment should follow careful evaluation to determine if one is dealing with 'uncomplicated' or 'complicated' enuresis. Complicated enuresis requires further investigation. 'Uncomplicated enuresis' always requires reassurance and patient and parent education. Resource centres such as ERIC can provide information and advice. Active treatment should be tailored to the patients age, motivation and parental wishes. Behavioural modification techniques yield the highest long-term cure rate but require the most commitment and are rarely successful before the age of 7-8 years. Pharmacotherapy has been revolutionized by DDAVP which gives a response rate of up to 70% relatively free from side-effects but at the price of a high relapse rate after medication. Imipramine is less expensive than DDAVP but may be fatal in overdose. Anticholinergics should be reserved for those patients with significant diurnal symptoms or those who fail first-line pharmacotherapy. Overall patients and parents should be reassured by the high spontaneous cure rate.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Enuresis / drug therapy
  • Enuresis / physiopathology
  • Enuresis / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Time Factors