Context: The role of urodynamic studies (UDSs) in the diagnosis of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) is crucial. Although expert statements and guidelines underline their value for clinical decision-making in various clinical settings, the academic debate as to their impact on patient outcomes continues.
Objective: To summarise the evidence from all randomised controlled trials assessing the clinical usefulness of UDS in the management of LUTS.
Evidence acquisition: For this systematic review, searches were performed without language restrictions in three electronic databases until November 18, 2020. The inclusion criteria were randomised controlled study design and allocation to receive UDS or not prior to any clinical management. Quality assessment was performed by two reviewers independently, using the Cochrane Collaboration's tool for assessing the risk of bias. A random-effect meta-analysis was performed on the uniformly reported outcome parameters.
Evidence synthesis: Eight trials were included, and all but two focused on women with pure or predominant stress urinary incontinence (SUI). A meta-analysis of six studies including 942 female patients was possible for treatment success, as defined by the authors (relative risk 1.00, 95% confidence interval: 0.93-1.07), indicating no difference in efficacy when managing women with UDS.
Conclusions: Although UDSs are not replaceable in diagnostics, since there is no other equivalent method to find out exactly what the lower urinary tract problem is, there are little data supporting its impact on outcomes. Randomised controlled trials have focussed on a small group of women with uncomplicated SUI and showed no added value, but these findings cannot be extrapolated to the overall patient population with LUTS, warranting further well-designed trials.
Patient summary: Despite urodynamics being the gold standard to assess lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), as it is the only method that can specify lower urinary tract dysfunction, more studies assessing the clinical usefulness of urodynamic studies (UDSs) in the management of LUTS are needed. UDS investigation is not increasing the probability of success in the treatment of stress urinary incontinence.