NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Electrical stimulation of a nerve in the lower leg for 30 minutes twice weekly benefits some people suffering from interstitial cystitis, doctors have shown.

Interstitial cystitis is an inflammation and irritation of the wall of the bladder, more often afflicting women than men. It can be painful and causes frequent and urgent urination.

The procedure described in the medical journal Urology is called posterior tibial nerve stimulation or PTNS.

“I think PTNS is simple and easy to use with no complications,” Dr. Jimao Zhao from Beijing Friendship Hospital in the People’s Republic of China told Reuters Health. “Our experiences have shown that it can improve some symptoms in patients with interstitial cystitis.”

Zhao and colleagues evaluated the efficacy of PTNS for relieving pelvic pain and frequency/urgency symptoms in 18 Chinese women with cystitis that had not responded to other therapies.

Pain scores did not change significantly after PTNS treatment, the investigators report.

There were, however, significant improvements after PTNS in standardize scores assessing interstitial cystitis problems and symptoms, as well as health status scores, the report indicates.

“These results, together with the … convenience of this method, make it an effective alternative in the treatment of symptoms of lower urinary tract dysfunction,” the report concludes.

“We plan to study the effect of intensity and the frequency of PTNS in these patients,” Zhao said. “Longer or more numerous sessions may be used in the next study.”

SOURCE: Urology, June 2008.