CO2 surgical laser for treatment of stress urinary incontinence in women: a randomized controlled trial


      Stress urinary incontinence is a common condition that can be treated conservatively and/or surgically. Given the risks of surgery, developing effective nonsurgical treatment options would be beneficial. Some studies have suggested that laser therapy may improve or cure stress urinary incontinence. However, there is a lack of sham-controlled randomized controlled trials to judge treatment efficacy.


      This study aimed to compare the effects of CO2 vaginal laser vs sham therapy for treating stress urinary incontinence.

      Study Design

      This was a multicenter, participant-blinded, sham-controlled, parallel group (1:1) superiority randomized controlled trial performed in outpatient clinics in 2 hospitals. We included women aged 18 to 80 years with objective and subjective stress urinary incontinence. Participants had undertaken or declined supervised pelvic floor muscle training. Intervention was performed using a CO2 fractionated vaginal laser. Participants underwent 3 treatments, 4 weeks apart, with increasing energy and density settings. Sham treatment was performed using an identical technique with a deactivated pedal.
      The primary outcome was the subjective stress urinary incontinence rate (proportion with leak with cough, sneeze, or laughter) at 3 months after completion of treatment. Secondary outcomes included objective stress urinary incontinence, change in the disease-specific patient-reported outcomes, health-related quality of life, and adverse effects. Categorical outcomes were compared using the chi square test and continuous outcomes using analysis of covariance, adjusting for the baseline score.


      There were 52 participants who received laser and 49 who received sham treatment. One participant in each group withdrew from the study before the endpoint, and 2 participants in the laser group did not participate in the follow-up visits. Participant mean age was 53 (34–79) years. Mean body mass index was 26.1 (18.1–49.6); 90% were vaginally parous. At 3 months, there was no difference between the sham and active treatment arm in subjective stress urinary incontinence (46 [96%] vs 48 [98%]; relative risk, 0.98 [95% confidence interval, 0.91–1.05]; P=.55) or in objective stress urinary incontinence (37 [80%] vs 33 [80%]; relative risk, 0.99 [95% confidence interval, 0.81–1.23]; P=.995). Patient-reported outcomes and health-related quality of life were also comparable between the groups. Vaginal bleeding occurred in 3 participants after laser and 1 participant after sham treatment. Pain during treatment did not differ between laser and sham treatment.


      We were unable to show an improvement in stress urinary incontinence after CO2 vaginal laser therapy compared with sham treatment.

      Key words

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