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06.05.2019 | Review Article | Ausgabe 8/2019

Journal of General Internal Medicine 8/2019

Adverse Events Associated with Nonsurgical Treatments for Urinary Incontinence in Women: a Systematic Review

Journal of General Internal Medicine > Ausgabe 8/2019
MD, MPH Ethan M. Balk, MLIS Gaelen P. Adam, PharmD Katherine Corsi, PharmD Amanda Mogul, MD, PhD Thomas A. Trikalinos, MD Peter C. Jeppson
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11606-019-05028-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common malady in women. Numerous nonsurgical treatments are available, each associated with risk of adverse events (AEs).


We systematically reviewed nonsurgical interventions for urgency, stress, or mixed UI in women, focusing on AEs. We searched MEDLINE®, Cochrane Central Trials Registry, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and Embase® through December 4, 2017. We included comparative studies and single-group studies with at least 50 women. Abstracts were screened independently in duplicate. One researcher extracted study characteristics and results with verification by another independent researcher. When at least four studies of a given intervention reported the same AE, we conducted random effects model meta-analyses of proportions. We also assessed the strength of evidence.


There is low strength of evidence that AEs are rare with behavioral therapies and neuromodulation, and that periurethral bulking agents may result in erosion and increase the risk of voiding dysfunction. High strength of evidence finds that anticholinergics and alpha agonists are associated with high rates of dry mouth and constitutional effects such as fatigue and gastrointestinal complaints. Onabotulinum toxin A (BTX) is also associated with increased risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) and voiding dysfunction (moderate strength of evidence).


Behavioral therapies and neuromodulation have low risk of AEs. Anticholinergics and alpha agonists have high rates of dry mouth and constitutional effects. BTX is associated with UTIs and voiding dysfunction. Periurethral bulking agents are associated with erosion and voiding dysfunction. These AEs should be considered when selecting appropriate UI treatment options. AE reporting is inconsistent and AE rates across studies tended to vary widely. Trials should report AEs more consistently.

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