Diagnosis of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome in women with chronic pelvic pain: a prospective observational study


Introduction and hypothesis

This study assesses the prevalence of interstitial cystitis (IC)/bladder pain syndrome (BPS) in women with chronic pelvic pain (CPP).


This was a prospective study of 150 women undergoing laparoscopy as investigation for CPP in an Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain unit. Preoperative questionnaires [demographic details, pelvic pain symptoms, the Pelvic Pain and Urgency/Frequency (PUF) and O’Leary-Sant (OLS) Symptom and Problem Index scores] were completed, and concurrent standardized cystoscopy with hydrodistention performed at laparoscopy. The primary outcome measures the proportion of IC in this group, defined by presence of glomerulations with CPP and urinary symptoms (urinary frequency, nocturia, urgency). The secondary outcome measures the proportion of BPS [defined by the European Society of the Study of Interstitial Cystitis (ESSIC)].


IC was diagnosed in 48/150 (32%) individuals, and 80/150 (53%) had BPS. There were no significant differences in symptomatology or questionnaire results between groups with and without IC. Women with BPS had higher PUF (17.2 vs 12.9, p < 0.001), OLS Symptom (8.2 vs 6.0, p = 0.001) and Problem (7.5 vs 4.2, p < 0.001) scores and more severe pain symptoms. Visually proven endometriosis was seen in 90/150 (60%), and 27/150 (18%) had both endometriosis and IC. Of the 80 women with BPS, 45/80 (60%) had endometriosis.


The prevalence of IC/BPS varies depending on the definition used. This study showed IC in 32% of women with CPP based on symptoms and presence of glomerulations. BPS as defined by ESSIC was diagnosed in 53%. History and questionnaires did not correlate with positive cystoscopic findings.

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This study was supported by a grant from the Australasian Gynaecological Endoscopy & Surgery (AGES) Research Fund. Special thanks are given to all staff who helped with recruitment and execution of this study. In particular, trainees of the Royal Women’s Hospital within the Gynaecology 2 Unit who helped with recruitment; fellows and senior registrars who helped with data collection and performing the surgeries, and all Gynaecology 2 Unit consultants who performed or supervised the operations.

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Correspondence to Claudia Cheng.

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Cheng, C., Rosamilia, A. & Healey, M. Diagnosis of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome in women with chronic pelvic pain: a prospective observational study. Int Urogynecol J 23, 1361–1366 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00192-012-1711-5

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  • Bladder pain syndrome
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Endometriosis
  • Interstitial cystitis