Evaluation and Classification of Stress Urinary Incontinence: Current Concepts and Future Directions

Nadir I. Osman, Vincenzo Li Marzi, Jean N. Cornu, Marcus J. Drake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)



Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a common and bothersome problem that frequently requires operative management. Over the past two decades, novel techniques have been introduced into clinical practice. With the greater variety of surgical options now available, there is an increasing focus on selecting the appropriate procedure for the individual patient based on the likely underlying pathophysiologic mechanism.

To review the methods used in the evaluation of SUI and the proposed classification systems.
Evidence acquisition

A search of the PubMed database for the relevant search terms was conducted, and selected articles were retrieved and reviewed.
Evidence synthesis

Standardised terminology for the description of SUI has been produced by the International Continence Society describing the problem in terms of symptoms, clinical signs, and urodynamic observations. The two major pathophysiologic theories that have emerged over the past 50 yr, urethral hypermobility and intrinsic sphincteric deficiency, have influenced the development and adoption of surgical techniques. It is now recognised that these two entities are not dichotomous but often coexist. The primary aim of the evaluation of the patient presenting with SUI is to confirm the diagnosis and assess symptom severity before instituting conservative treatments. Secondary evaluation consists of more sophisticated techniques that assess anatomy of the bladder neck and urethra under rest and stress (eg, videourodynamics, ultrasound) or direct or indirect physiologic measures of the integrity of the sphincter mechanism.

Classification of patients with SUI into distinct groups based on probable pathophysiologic mechanism could help guide the choice of surgical procedure, but current systems are likely too simplistic, and methods of assessment lack standardisation in techniques and sensitivity.
Patient summary

Urinary leakage on exertion, termed stress incontinence, is a common problem that affects many women. There is a need to develop better ways of categorising the underlying causes of leakage to ensure that patients receive the optimal treatments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-244
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Urology Focus
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Surgical Research


  • Stress urinary incontinence
  • Urodynamics
  • Urethral hypermobility
  • Intrinsic sphincter deficiency

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