Objective: To describe the effectiveness of a vibrating device for emptying the neurogenic bladder in patients with neurological disease.
Patients and methods: The study involved 36 patients, comprising 29 with multiple sclerosis (MS), four with multiple system atrophy (MSA), one with radiation myelitis and two with neurological disease of uncertain aetiology. Most patients with MS (27) were able to walk unaided or with aids. Three of the 36 patients had loss of suprapubic sensation (two MS, one with uncertain diagnosis). All patients had free flow rates and ultrasonographic post-void residual volumes (PVRs) measured before and after voiding while using a vibrating device (frequency 60 Hz) applied to the suprapubic region. They also completed questionnaires about their urinary symptoms before and after the continued use of this device. The mean follow-up was 11.5 months (range 8-14).
Results: The device improved the symptoms in 25 of 36 patients (70%) and reduced the PVR from a mean (standard deviation) of 175 (78) mL to 68 (32) mL. It was not useful in patients with PVRs of > 400 mL, Kurtzke pyramidal function scores of > 3, and in those with suprapubic numbness. There were no complications and most patients complied well.
Conclusions: Suprapubic vibration is an effective means of emptying the neurogenic bladder in patients who are not severely disabled and who have detrusor hyper-reflexia. It probably acts through a tonic vibration reflex which is under supraspinal influence. This device may be a useful alternative to clean intermittent self-catheterization.