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Open Access Study protocol

Protocol for a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial investigating sacral neuromodulation for neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction

Stephanie C Knüpfer1, Martina D Liechti1, Livio Mordasini2, Dominik Abt2, Daniel S Engeler2, Jens Wöllner3, Jürgen Pannek3, Bernhard Kiss4, Fiona C Burkhard4, Marc P Schneider1, Elena Miramontes1, Alfons G Kessels5, Lucas M Bachmann6 and Thomas M Kessler1*

Author Affiliations

1 Neuro-Urology, Spinal Cord Injury Center & Research, University of Zürich, Balgrist University Hospital, Forchstrasse 340, 8008 Zürich, Switzerland

2 Department of Urology, Cantonal Hospital St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland

3 Neuro-Urology, Swiss Paraplegic Center, Nottwil, Switzerland

4 Department of Urology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

5 Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Medical Technology Assessment, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, The Netherlands

6 Medignition Inc., Research Consultants, Zug, Switzerland

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BMC Urology 2014, 14:65  doi:10.1186/1471-2490-14-65

Published: 13 August 2014



Sacral neuromodulation has become a well-established and widely accepted treatment for refractory non-neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction, but its value in patients with a neurological cause is unclear. Although there is evidence indicating that sacral neuromodulation may be effective and safe for treating neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction, the number of investigated patients is low and there is a lack of randomized controlled trials.

Methods and design

This study is a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind multicenter trial including 4 sacral neuromodulation referral centers in Switzerland. Patients with refractory neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction are enrolled. After minimally invasive bilateral tined lead placement into the sacral foramina S3 and/or S4, patients undergo prolonged sacral neuromodulation testing for 3–6 weeks. In case of successful (defined as improvement of at least 50% in key bladder diary variables (i.e. number of voids and/or number of leakages, post void residual) compared to baseline values) prolonged sacral neuromodulation testing, the neuromodulator is implanted in the upper buttock. After a 2 months post-implantation phase when the neuromodulator is turned ON to optimize the effectiveness of neuromodulation using sub-sensory threshold stimulation, the patients are randomized in a 1:1 allocation in sacral neuromodulation ON or OFF. At the end of the 2 months double-blind sacral neuromodulation phase, the patients have a neuro-urological re-evaluation, unblinding takes place, and the neuromodulator is turned ON in all patients. The primary outcome measure is success of sacral neuromodulation, secondary outcome measures are adverse events, urodynamic parameters, questionnaires, and costs of sacral neuromodulation.


It is of utmost importance to know whether the minimally invasive and completely reversible sacral neuromodulation would be a valuable treatment option for patients with refractory neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction. If this type of treatment is effective in the neurological population, it would revolutionize the management of neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction.

Trial registration

Trial registration number: webcite; Identifier: NCT02165774.

Urinary bladder; Neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction; Sacral neuromodulation; Randomized; Placebo-controlled; Double-blind trial