Biofeedback therapy for children: what is the maximum number of sessions we should offer?

Published:November 25, 2022DOI:



      Biofeedback therapy is an effective but resource intensive treatment for pediatric dysfunctional voiding. Based on our center’s experience, we evaluated the rate of clinical improvement from biofeedback in order to identify the maximum number of sessions to offer patients.


      We reviewed 490 pediatric patients who underwent at least 6 sessions of biofeedback from 2013 to 2021. At each session, patients and their parents documented their urinary symptoms (urgency, frequency, pain, and difficulties with stream), incontinence, medications, and stool pattern. This longitudinal data was abstracted, and the log odds of urinary symptoms or incontinence was modelled with number of sessions as a predictor using generalized estimating equations and robust standard errors in SAS v9.4. Gender and bowel dysfunction were included as interactions terms. A logistic regression using absence of urinary symptoms at last biofeedback session as a dependent variable was done to further explore differences between genders.


      Patients were predominantly female (324/490, 66%) with a mean age of 8.9 years (SD 3.3 years). Most common symptoms at presentation were urinary urgency (389/490, 79%) and urinary incontinence (413/490, 84%). Medication use was common at the time of the first session (191/490, 39%) with males more likely to be on alpha-blockers (54/166 vs 1/324, p < 0.001) and females more likely to be on antibiotic prophylaxis (68/324 vs 2/166, p < 0.001).
      The probability of having urinary symptoms or incontinence decreased up to session 11 (9 months from initial visit). There was slower rate of improvement after session 8 (3 months). Controlling for age, symptoms, and medication use at initial visit, male patients were less likely to report symptom resolution at the time of the last session (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.33, 0.89). The nadir for reporting symptoms occurred by session 22 for male patients, compared to session 10 for female patients.


      Clinical improvement from biofeedback for pediatric patients with dysfunctional voiding may take up to 9 months of therapy, but most cases that improve do so by 3 months. The effect of gender on biofeedback efficacy requires further study, but males may have slower response to biofeedback. Our data provides guidance on when maximum benefit from biofeedback can be expected before considering re-evaluation or other therapies for lower urinary tract symptoms.


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