SynopsisCodesLook ForDiagnostic PearlsDifferential Diagnosis & PitfallsBest TestsManagement PearlsTherapyDrug Reaction DataReferences
Interstitial cystitis
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Interstitial cystitis

Contributors: Mitchell Linder MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Interstitial cystitis (also referred to as painful bladder syndrome) is a chronic bladder condition of unknown etiology. It is formally defined by the American Urological Association as an unpleasant sensation (pain, pressure, or discomfort) perceived to be related to the urinary bladder and associated with lower urinary tract symptoms of more than 6 weeks' duration, in the absence of infection or other identifiable causes.

Historically, it was believed that the potential pathophysiology was related to damage to the urothelium provoking an inflammatory response. Potential triggers were thought to include infection, pelvic surgery, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, bladder overdistention, pelvic floor injury, and spinal cord issues. Currently, the etiology is less clear, and interstitial cystitis is grouped with other chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This condition can occur at any age, although it is seen most often at midlife and more commonly in females.

Patients will present with symptoms of dysuria, increased urinary frequency and urgency, pelvic pain and pressure, as well as possible dyspareunia. Most commonly, patients will report pain with the bladder being full, which is relieved upon emptying.
Symptom onset is usually gradual over a number of months. Sometimes a triggering event can be identified, but more often the onset is insidious.


N30.10 – Interstitial cystitis (chronic) without hematuria

197834003 – Chronic interstitial cystitis

Look For

Subscription Required

Diagnostic Pearls

Subscription Required

Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Urinary tract infection – Pain with urination, not with being full
  • Endometriosis – Cyclic pelvic pain and dyspareunia
  • Vulvodynia – Nerve condition causing pain with intercourse
  • Renal calculus / Urinary bladder calculus
  • Pudendal neuralgia
  • Pelvic floor dyssynergia
  • Overactive bladder – Reason for voiding is to prevent incontinence, not to relieve / prevent pain.
  • Malignancy of the Bladder cancer or genital tract (eg, Cervical cancer, Prostate cancer)

Best Tests

Subscription Required

Management Pearls

Subscription Required


Subscription Required

Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

Subscription Required


Subscription Required

Last Reviewed:08/28/2017
Last Updated:08/28/2017
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.
Interstitial cystitis
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.