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Lower urinary tract symptoms and urinary incontinence in a geriatric cohort – a population-based analysis

By C. Wehrberger, S. Madersbacher, S. Jungwirth, P. Fischer and K.-H. Tragl

BJU International, Volume 110, Issue 10, November 2012, Pages 1516-1521

Study Type – Symptom prevalence (prospective cohort)
Level of Evidence 1b

What's known on the subject? and What does the study add?
Prevalence and severity of urinary incontinence and lower urinary tract symptoms increase with age and have a considerable negative influence on quality of life.
As a result of demographic changes the proportion of octogenarians will increase in the next decades substantially, yet the literature on urinary incontinence and lower urinary tract symptoms of the oldest old is scant. This population-based study of 85-year-old subjects sheds new light on this topic.


  • To assess prevalence and severity of lower urinary tract function in 85-year-old men and women.
  • Little is known on the prevalence of lower urinary tract dysfunction in this geriatric age group, which is now the fastest growing sector of the population worldwide.


  • The Vienna Trans-Danube Aging study (VITA) is a longitudinal, population-based study initiated in 2000 that included men/women aged 75 years living in a well-defined area in Vienna.
  • The main purpose of the VITA study was to identify risk factors for incident Alzheimer's disease. 
  • All study participants alive in 2010 were contacted by mail to complete a detailed questionnaire on various aspects of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and urinary incontinence (UI).


  • The response rate was 68%, resulting in a total of 262 questionnaires available for analysis (men n= 96; women n= 166). All study participants were 85 years of age.• 
  • Urinary incontinence defined as any involuntary loss during the past 4 weeks was reported by 24% of men and 35% of women (P= 0.04). Stress UI was more frequent in women (39%) than in men (14%, P < 0.01), the difference for urge UI (women 35%, men 25%) was on the border of statistical significance (P= 0.05). Only four individuals (1.5%) needed permanent catheterization.
  • Urgency (women 56%, men 54%) and daytime frequency (women 70%, men 74%) were equally distributed (P > 0.05). Nocturia more often than twice was more prevalent in men (69%) than in women (49%) (P= 0.02). Overactive bladder, according to International Continence Society criteria, was present in 55% of women and 50% of men. 
  • No difference regarding quality of life impairment as the result of LUTS and UI was noticed between sexes. A few co-morbidities were identified to correlate with UI and storage symptoms.


  • These data provide insights into the prevalence and severity of LUTS and UI in individuals in their eighties, to our knowledge the largest population-based study in this age group.• 
  • Demographic changes in upcoming decades underline the importance of a thorough understanding of lower urinary tract dysfunction in a geriatric population.