Overactive bladder is a condition that affects an estimated 33 million Americans, including a large percentage of my patients. It’s always great to have another treatment option, particularly one that offers a simple procedure in place of medications or a more invasive surgery.
So, after participating in a clinical trials program we are thrilled here at The Urology Group that BOTOX®, the widely used wrinkle-removing injection, is actually adding overactive bladder to its growing list of medical condition treatments.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially expanded its approval of BOTOX® (onabotulinumtoxin) as a viable treatment option for adults with overactive bladder who cannot use or do not adequately respond to traditional medications. (Until a couple of weeks ago, Botox was only approved for patients with neurological conditions such as spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis.)
Overactive bladder is a condition that affects both men and women. Symptoms include frequency of urination, a feeling of urgency to urinate, accidents or leakage from inability to reach the restroom in time and waking up at least twice a night to use the bathroom.
Normal bladder function involves communication between the nervous systemÂ and the muscles that make up the bladder wall. The nerves send signals to the bladder muscles, telling them to contract when the bladder is full. In patients with overactive bladder, those nerve signals occur more suddenly and frequently — even when the bladder is not full. This is where the BOTOX® treatment is most effective.
It’s a relatively simple procedure that requires injecting the drug into the bladder during cystoscopy (a medical procedure that lets a doctor see inside the bladder.) It sometimes requires general anesthesia. BOTOX® works by relaxing the bladder, thus allowing it to store more urine. The effects can last from four to six months.
The upside for patients is the technique may be repeated, with at least 12 weeks between each treatment. As with most treatments, there are possible side effects, including urinary tract infections, painful urination and incomplete emptying of the bladder. However, this new treatment is promising for patients with chronic bladder control issues.