Objective: To examine whether there are urogenital criteria that the urologist could apply to a patient with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (IPD) and bladder symptoms, and so avoid operating on patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA).
Patients and methods: The clinical features of 52 patients with probable MSA and 41 patients with IPD were studied retrospectively with particular attention to the nature of lower urinary tract symptoms and erectile dysfunction in relation to the onset of parkinsonism. Anal sphincter electromyography (EMG) was recorded in all the patients with MSA and in 12 of the patients with IPD.
Results: Of the patients with MSA, 60% had urinary symptoms preceding or presenting with IPD but in 94% of the patients with IPD the neurological diagnosis preceded the onset of urogenital symptoms. Most of the patients with MSA (73%) had troublesome urinary incontinence whereas the majority of those with IPD (85%) had urgency and frequency but were not incontinent; 66% of the patients with MSA and 16% of patients with IPD had a significant post-void residual volume. Of the men with MSA, 93% had erectile dysfunction and in 48% of them this complaint preceded the diagnosis of MSA. All 11 men with MSA who had a TURP were incontinent post-operatively.
Conclusion: The urogenital criteria which favour a diagnosis of MSA are: (i) urinary symptoms preceding or presenting with parkinsonism; (ii) urinary incontinence and IPD; (iii) a significant post-void residual urine volume; (iv) erectile failure preceding or presenting with parkinsonism; and (v) worsening bladder control after urological surgery. Patients with parkinsonism and these features should be offered medical management rather than urological surgery.