Purpose: We investigated the possible use of acupuncture for the treatment of urinary incontinence caused by detrusor hyperflexia in patients with chronic spinal cord injury.
Method: A total of 8 male chronic spinal cord injured patients with urinary incontinence were treated by acupuncture. Their ages ranged from 20 to 33 years (mean 27). The level of lesion was cervical in 4 and thoracic in 4. Detrusor hyperreflexia with uninhibited bladder contraction was confirmed by urodynamic studies in all of them. Acupuncture was performed using a disposable stainless needle (0.3 mm in diameter, 60 mm in length), which was inserted into bilateral BL-33 (Zhongliao) points and was rotated manually for 10 minutes. The treatment was conducted every week for 4 weeks. Urodynamic studies were repeated, immediately after the beginning of and a week after the completion of the treatment. Urinary symptoms were also checked before and after the treatment.
Results: No side effects were recognized throughout the treatment period. Among 8 patients, incontinence was controlled completely in 3 (38%) and partially in 3 (38%). The average maximum cystometric bladder capacity increased significantly, from 42.3 +/- 37.9 ml to 148.1 +/- 101.2 ml by the treatment (p < 0.05), while the average maximum bladder pressure was not changed.
Conclusions: These data suggest that acupuncture could be a promising alternative for conventional therapies for urinary incontinence caused by detrusor hyperreflexia in patients with chronic spinal cord injuries.