Detrusor instability is common in men with evidence of outflow obstruction due to benign prostatic hypertrophy and typically reverses in about two thirds of patients after transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). It is also common among the elderly without outflow obstruction and may lead to urge incontinence. To determine whether TURP has an effect on detrusor instability and urge incontinence in elderly men, or whether these abnormalities are due to other age-associated changes, 12 males (mean age 80 years) with urge incontinence or frequency and urgency of micturition, and symptomatic benign prostatic hypertrophy, were studied by 24-hour monitoring of incontinence and videourodynamic examination, before and after TURP; 7/12 patients were significantly cognitively impaired.
Preoperatively, all patients showed detrusor instability, which reversed postoperatively in only one patient, a significantly smaller proportion than that consistently reported in younger patients. Preoperatively, 11/12 patients were incontinent. After TURP, 8/11 patients had an improvement in the amount of incontinence, by up to 458 g in 24 hours. Those who improved had been urodynamically more severely obstructed preoperatively. Those with the most improvement were also cognitively impaired.
We conclude that, in the geriatric population, detrusor instability and urge incontinence may be the result of age-associated changes and not secondary to obstruction. Detrusor instability is likely to persist following TURP. Preoperative urodynamic assessment of obstruction in the incontinent male with benign prostatic hypertrophy may be useful since the severity of incontinence responds well to TURP if there is marked obstruction. Cognitive impairment should not be a deterrent to operation.