What is the pathophysiology of mixed urinary incontinence?

Updated: Jan 22, 2021
  • Author: Sandip P Vasavada, MD; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Mixed incontinence is urinary incontinence resulting from a combination of stress and urge incontinence. [10] Approximately 40-60% of females with incontinence have this combination. Although it is generally defined as detrusor overactivity and impaired urethral function, the actual pathophysiology of mixed urinary incontinence is still being investigated. While generally thought of as separate etiologies for incontinence, some indirect evidence may link these disorders in some instances.

In mixed incontinence, the bladder outlet is weak and the detrusor is overactive. A classic example of mixed incontinence is a patient with meningomyelocele and an incompetent bladder neck with a hyperreflexic detrusor; however, a combination of urethral hypermobility and detrusor instability is a more common scenario.

Mixed incontinence is a common finding in older patients with urinary incontinence disorders. Often, stress incontinence symptoms precede urge incontinence symptoms in these individuals. Urgency without actual urge-related urine loss also is a common complaint of patients with stress incontinence.

Some patients with stress incontinence have urine leakage into the proximal urethra that may, at first, trigger sensory urgency and/or bladder contractions, which initially are suppressible. Later, in a subgroup of these individuals, myopathic changes may occur in the bladder that make the spread of abnormally generated contractile signals more efficient and more difficult to suppress voluntarily.

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