Evaluation and treatment of female stress urinary incontinence after pelvic radiotherapy

Pelvic radiotherapy is associated with both acute and chronic voiding dysfunction. A review of the success and complications of surgical treatments for female stress urinary incontinence after pelvic radiotherapy has not been summarized in the published literature.

A systematic review of female stress urinary incontinence after pelvic radiotherapy was conducted using MeSH terminology (1988-2018).

There is limited published literature on the treatment of stress urinary incontinence in women following pelvic radiotherapy. Long term indwelling urethral catheter should be avoided in all women given the risk of iatrogenic hypospadias. Surgical treatments can be classified into those for the intact versus failed outlet. Urethral bulking injections have been studied in a prospective fashion specifically in women with stress urinary incontinence after radiotherapy and although not randomized, have the highest level of evidence. Patients should be screened for a history of prior radiotherapy before considering sling placement. Artificial urinary sphincter is associated with a high rate of erosion after prior radiotherapy. The role of Burch colposuspension in patients with prior radiotherapy is poorly defined. Urinary diversion should be considered for patients with a devastated outlet.

Since the long-term effects of radiotherapy on lower urinary tract voiding function are typically irreversible and progressive, further research is needed to mitigate the adverse effects of irradiation and identify more durable treatment options for women with radiation induced bladder dysfunction and stress urinary incontinence.

Neurourology and urodynamics. 2018 Oct 12 [Epub ahead of print]

Amy D Dobberfuhl

Department of Urology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California.