Overactive bladder: Achieving a differential diagnosis from other lower urinary tract conditions

Victor Nitti, S. Taneja

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Overactive bladder (OAB) is a debilitating condition characterised by an urgent need to urinate (urgency), often with urinary frequency and, in some cases, urgency incontinence and nocturnal frequency. Patients often adopt complex adaptive behaviours to cope with their symptoms as OAB can compromise all dimensions of a patient's quality of life. Most OAB patients present initially to their primary care physician. Diagnosis is based on presenting symptomatology and does not require any invasive tests. Direct questioning about symptoms is important in achieving a differential diagnosis. The most common condition to be considered when working towards a differential diagnosis is a urinary tract infection (UTI). However, some physicians have expressed concerns about identifying the small number of cases where bladder cancer is a potential underlying aetiology for the symptoms of OAB. In this review, we examine the prevalence and patient profiles for these bladder conditions and their presenting symptomatology. We also review tests that may be recommended to exclude a diagnosis of UTI or bladder cancer and present a diagnostic algorithm suitable for office-based primary care practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-830
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Practice
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2005


  • Bladder cancer
  • Overactive bladder
  • Urinary tract infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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