International Urogynecology Journal

, Volume 24, Issue 8, pp 1243–1256 | Cite as

Interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome: diagnosis and management

  • I. Offiah
  • S. B. McMahon
  • B. A. O’Reilly
Review Article


Introduction and hypothesis

The bladder pain syndrome (BPS) is a spectrum of urological symptoms characterised by bladder pain with typical cystoscopic features. Diagnosis and management of this syndrome may be difficult. There is no evidence-based management approach for the diagnosis or treatment of BPS. The objective of this study was to critically review and summarise the evidence relating to the diagnosis and treatment of the bladder pain syndrome.


A review of published data on the diagnosis and treatment of the BPS was performed. Our search was limited to English-language articles, on the “diagnosis”, and “management” or “treatment” of “interstitial cystitis” and the “bladder pain syndrome” in “humans.”


Frequency, urgency and pain on bladder filling are the most common symptoms of BPS. All urodynamic volumes are reduced in patients with BPS. Associated conditions include psychological distress, depression, history of sexual assault, irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia. Cystoscopy remains the test for definitive diagnosis, with visualisation of haemorrhage on cystoreduction. A multidisciplinary treatment approach is essential in the management of this condition. Orally administered amitriptyline is an efficacious medical treatment for BPS. Intravesical hyaluronic acid and local anaesthetic, with/without hydrodistension are among new treatment strategies. Sacral or pudendal neuromodulation is effective, minimally invasive and safe. Surgery is reserved for refractory cases.


There remains a paucity of evidence for the diagnosis and treatment of BPS. We encountered significant heterogeneity in the assessment of symptoms, duration of treatment and follow up of patients in our literature review.


Bladder pain syndrome Interstitial cystitis Treatment Management Diagnosis 



Bladder pain syndrome


Interstitial cystitis


Painful bladder syndrome


General practitioner


Overactive bladder


Irritable bowel syndrome


Quality of life





The authors would like to acknowledge Dr Danielle O’Leary and Dr Athanasios Didangelos for their help in the preparation and editing of this manuscript.

Funding for project

There was no funding required for completion of this review.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© The International Urogynecological Association 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of UrogynaecologyCork University Maternity HospitalWiltonIreland
  2. 2.Neurorestoration Group, Wolfson CARDKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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