What is overflow urinary incontinence?

Updated: Jan 22, 2021
  • Author: Sandip P Vasavada, MD; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder is overdistended and reaches its limit of compliance. At this point, the intravesical pressure exceeds the resting urethral closure pressure and urine overflows despite the absence of detrusor contraction. Patients experience a sense of incomplete emptying, slow-flowing urine, and urinary dribbling.

Symptoms of overflow incontinence may mimic those of mixed incontinence. Patients lose a small amount of urine when intra-abdominal pressure is increased. Patients who are affected often experience symptoms of frequency and urgency as the detrusor attempts to expel urine.

The history in these patients may suggest a cause of bladder outlet obstruction, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia, anti-incontinence surgery (eg, a pubovaginal sling operation), or use of anticholinergic or antispasmodic drugs. Alternatively, the history may identify a possible neurologic cause of a nonfunctioning detrusor, such as diabetic neuropathy.

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