SYSTEMATIC REVIEW
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Urethral bulking agents versus other surgical procedures for the treatment of female stress urinary incontinence: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Bulking agents provide an alternative option in the management of women with stress urinary incontinence and they seem to have an important role in the management flow chart of SUI. However, evidence on this issue is scanty. The most important aspect is to understand whether bulking agents are comparable with the other first-line anti-incontinence surgical procedure (MUS, Burch colposuspension and pubovaginal slings). Hence, the primary aim of the current review was to assess the objective and subjective outcomes of bulking agents in comparison with the other surgical procedures for the treatment of SUI. PubMed and Medline were systematically searched and we included studies evaluating the use of bulking agents in comparison with other surgical approaches for either primary or recurrent treatment of female SUI. Three studies meeting the inclusion criteria were identified. Two of these studies were RCTs evaluating the use of bulking agents versus other surgical procedures for the treatment of primary female SUI; the remnant article was a retrospective cohort study that compared the effectiveness and safety of repeat midurethral sling with urethral bulking after failed midurethral sling. The combined results of all analyses showed that the objective recurrence rate of peri- or trans-urethral injections is significantly higher in comparison with the other surgical procedures. Similar findings were observed when considering separately the treatment for primary or recurrent SUI. Furthermore, lower subjective recurrence rate was observed among patients undergoing other surgical treatment in comparison with those undergoing bulking agents; however, this trend was not statistically significant. Moreover, patients undergoing injection of bulking agents experienced a lower rate of voiding dysfunctions in comparison to the control group. According to current evidence, bulking agents should not be proposed as first-line treatment in those women seeking permanent cure for both primary and recurrent SUI. However, the effectiveness of a procedure should be balanced with its invasiveness and patients' expectations. Bulking agents are a minimally invasive approach to treat SUI and their use should be considered as an alternative strategy particularly in special conditions: patients who are fragile, in those who do not wish to have surgery, or in whom surgical options are restricted (postoperatively, after irradiation).

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