To determine if self-administered transcutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (TTNS) is a feasible treatment option for neurogenic bladder among people with spinal cord injury (SCI) who utilize intermittent catheterization for bladder management.

Four-week observational trial in chronic SCI subjects performing intermittent catheterization with incontinence episodes using TTNS at home daily for 30 minutes. Those using anticholinergic bladder medications were given a weaning schedule to begin at week 2. Primary outcomes were compliance and satisfaction. Secondary outcomes included change in bladder medications, efficacy based on bladder diary, adverse events, and incontinence quality of life (I-QoL) survey.

All 16 subjects who started the study completed the 4-week trial rating TTNS with high satisfaction and easy to use, without discomfort. Twelve of 14 patients (86%) using anticholinergic bladder medications reduced their dosage and maintained similar frequency and volumes of bladder catheterization and incontinence episodes. Bladder medication reduced by approximately 3.2 mg weekly (95% confidence interval, -5.9 to -0.4) and anticholinergic side effects of dry mouth and drowsiness decreased more than 1 level of severity from baseline (P=0.027, P=0.015, respectively). At 4 weeks, total I-QoL score improved by an average of 3.2 points compared to baseline in all domains.

This pilot trial suggests TTNS is feasible to be performed at home in people with chronic SCI. Participants were able to reduce anticholinergic medication dosage and anticholinergic side effects while maintaining continence, subsequently improving QoL scores. These results advocate for further randomized, controlled trials with longer duration and urodynamic evaluation to assess long-term efficacy.

International neurourology journal. 2019 Sep 30 [Epub]

Argyrios Stampas, Rose Khavari, Joel E Frontera, Suzanne L Groah

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, McGovern Medical School, UTHealth at Houston, Houston, TX, USA., Department of Urology, Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX, USA., Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC, USA.