Current Concepts in the Treatment of Genitourinary Tract Disorders in the Older Individual

Anthony Atala, Mohammad Amin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Genitourinary problems, including neurogenic dysfunction, impotence, prostatism, urinary tract infections, and prostate cancer, are common in the elderly, and most of the symptoms can be alleviated through pharmacological management. Patients with neurogenic dysfunction who present with symptoms such as incontinence and urinary retention can be appropriately managed with bladder and sphincter relaxants or stimulants. Anticholinergic agents in the form of oxybutynin, flavoxate, and propantheline are effective bladder relaxants, and phenoxybenzamine, prazosin, and terazosin are commonly used as sphincter relaxants. Bethanechol chloride is the agent most commonly used to stimulate bladder contraction, but physicians should be careful when prescribing it for elderly patients with cardiovascular problems. Organic and psychogenic causes of impotence usually overlap, and oral agents have limited use in the treatment process. The use of yohimbine has increased recently, but its value and rate of success remains questionable. Testosterone is being used widely to treat impotence, but it is only helpful to patients with hypogonadism and should be used with discretion in the elderly, who have a high incidence of prostate cancer. Vasoactive intracavernous pharmacotherapy, on the other hand, is a recently discovered alternative to testosterone with promising results. Although the treatment of choice for benign prostatic hypertrophy is surgery, there have been important pharmacological advances in treating this disorder. alpha-Adrenergic antagonists and anti-androgenic agents have been found to relieve the symptoms of prostatic enlargement. The use of chemotherapeutic and antibiotic agents to treat and suppress acute and chronic urinary tract infections is reviewed; these are second only to pulmonary infections as the most frequent cause of febrile episodes in patients over the age of 65. Lower urinary tract infections can be treated with almost any antibacterial agent. Upper urinary tract infections require full genitourinary evaluation and appropriate antibiotics should be used according to the urine culture sensitivity studies. With the advent of new hormonal agents, more choices are now available for the management of prostate cancer, which is the second most common malignancy in men. Diethylstilbestrol (stilboestrol), an oral estrogen, remains a commonly used agent to achieve castrate levels of androgens in advanced prostatic carcinoma. Agonist analogues, such as goserelin and leuprorelin, of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) [luteinising hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH); or gonadorelin] achieve the same results as diethylstilbestrol but without the cardiovascular side effects. Antiandrogens are also being used in combination with GnRH agonists to produce complete androgen blockage, with mixed results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-193
Number of pages18
JournalDrugs & Aging
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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