A new paper from the team at the London Ataxia Centre provides new information on symptoms of the lower urinary tract (LUT) and the bowel in people with spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs). The lower urinary tract consists of the bladder and the urethra (the tube carrying urine from the bladder to outside the body).
The objective of this research was to evaluate the prevalence of LUT and bowel symptoms in SCAs and assess the impact on quality of life. Also, the aim was to investigate the association between LUT symptoms, neurological features, and genetic mutations.
Individuals affected by SCAs, were approached about LUT and bowel complaints, and completed validated questionnaires. The study involved 51 individuals with a range of different SCAs: 4 SCA1 patients, 11 SCA2 patients, 13 SCA3 patients, 17 SCA6 patients, and 6 SCA7 patients. In addition, urodynamic studies were carried out on SCA3 and SCA7 patients with urological complaints.
The researchers found that 60.8% self‐reported LUT symptoms, whereas 86.3% LUT symptoms were reported via a validated questionnaire. Also, 34 people experienced urinary frequency and urgency (68%).
Furthermore, another key finding was that although LUT symptoms were most often classed as mild (61.4%, 27 participants), they impacted the quality of life of 38 participants (77.6%). Of these, 21 individuals were not taking medicines for urinary dysfunction.
In addition, bowel symptoms were uncommon, and the impact on quality of life was little.
In conclusion, in individuals affected by SCAs, LUT symptoms are prevalent and impact quality of life. Bowel symptoms tend to be mild. Due to the complexity of the neurological involvement in SCA, these issues may be overlooked. Thus, a multidisciplinary management approach is recommended, as symptoms are amendable to treatment.
Please find the full research paper available here.
For more information on the different types of SCAs, please visit our website.
For information about bladder problems and bowel complications in ataxia, please read section ‘4.1. Symptomatic treatments’ in the Ataxia UK medical guidelines.
Date posted: 15/04/2021