We evaluated the effectiveness of parasacral transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation to treat overactive bladder in children. We designed a prospective randomized trial with sham control for this evaluation.

Materials and Methods:

We prospectively randomized 25 girls and 12 boys with an average age of 7.6 years (range 4 to 12) into the test (active treatment) or sham (superficial scapular electrical stimulation) group. A total of 20 sessions, 20 minutes each (10 Hz) were performed 3 times weekly. The criteria used to evaluate the rate of success were 1) self-reported cure, or significant, mild or no improvement; 2) visual analogue scale (level of success 0 to 10); 3) percent improvement; 4) modified Toronto score; and 5) maximum voided volume, average voided volume and number of voids daily based on bladder diary entries. After completion of the 20 sessions controls who were not cured underwent active treatment.


A total of 21 patients in the test group and 16 in the sham group underwent treatment. Among the active treatment group 61.9% of parents reported cure. In the sham group no parent reported cure (p <0.001). Regarding visual analogue scale a score of 10 was indicated by 13 parents in the test group, while 1 parent in the sham group indicated a score of 9 (p = 0.002). Additionally 100% improvement was reported by 12 parents in the test group and no parent in the sham group. Toronto score improved significantly in the test group (p <0.001) and sham group (p = 0.008). However, the score was reduced more significantly in the test group compared to the sham group (p = 0.011). In the test group average and maximum voided volumes showed a statistically significant increase and the number of voids daily decreased. After superficial scapular electrical stimulation 13 of the 16 patients who underwent parasacral transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation were cured.


This is the first known randomized clinical trial to demonstrate that parasacral transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is effective in the treatment of children with overactive bladder.


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Department of Urology and Physical Therapy, Section of Pediatric Urology, Bahiana School of Medicine, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil