Do we need a new definition of the overactive bladder syndrome? ICI-RS 2013


  • Christopher Chapple led the peer-review process as the Associate Editor responsible for the paper.
  • Conflict of interest: Lecturer/Advisory Boards/Research for Allergan, Apogepha, Astellas, Ferring.


Aim and Methods

Overactive bladder syndrome (OAB) has a symptom-based definition. Following a presentation of issues, the definition was subjected to expert discussion at the International Consultation on Incontinence Research Society to identify key issues.


OAB is a widely used term; it is a pragmatic approach to categorizing a recognized group of patients, and is understood by the patients, however, expert opinion suggested several issues for which additional evidence should be sought. Naming an organ (bladder) in the condition may suggest underlying mechanism, when contributory aspects may lie outside the bladder. No severity thresholds are set, which can cause uncertainty. Urgency is prominent in the definition, but may not be prominent in patients whose adaptive behavior reduces their propensity to urgency. OAB can co-exist with other common conditions, such as benign prostate enlargement (BPE), stress incontinence or nocturnal polyuria. Consensus led by the International Continence Society can be attempted for aspects such as “fear of leakage.” To develop a new definition, more substantive evidence is needed for key elements, and until such evidence is available, full redefinition is not appropriate. Thus, the medical profession should accept constructive compromise and work supportively.


The ICI-RS proposes that the terminology is slightly rephrased as: “overactive bladder syndrome (OAB) is characterized by urinary urgency, with or without urgency urinary incontinence, usually with increased daytime frequency and nocturia, if there is no proven infection or other obvious pathology.” More substantive changes would require additional scientific evidence. Strengths, limitations, and practicalities of the definition of OAB were discussed at the ICIRS meeting 2013. Following a presentation of issues, the definition was subjected to expert discussion. Neurourol. Urodynam. 33:622–624, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.