The applications of Botox® have expanded to a variety of clinical specialties. Cosmetic uses (frown lines and crow’s feet to name a few) along with treatment of muscle spasms, migraines, extreme sweating, tremors and even burns are just a handful of the benefits that Botox® has. It is also used in managing patients who have problems with their bladder and suffer from incontinence. In this article, we shall take a brief look at this application of Botox® and discuss how it can help patients who suffer from urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence can be a troublesome condition affecting patients. It is characterized by difficulty in controlling one’s bladder resulting in them having to rush to the toilet or even wetting themselves. There is no doubt this can be extremely distressing and embarrassing.
Usually incontinence is diagnosed by clinical history and urodynamic tests that assess the detrusor muscle of the bladder. When this muscle functions normally, bladder function is normal however if it contracts abnormally, patients can experience urinary incontinence. Many a time patients are offered medical treatment with certain drugs called anticholinergic drugs but these are occasionally ineffective. In such situations, patients may require Botox® injections into the bladder muscle to help relax it.
The role of Botox®
Botox®, also called botulinum toxin, is a toxin that is produced by a bacterium. It can effectively relax muscles and is therefore used in patients who suffer from muscle spasticity.
Botox® into the bladder is conducted under general anesthetic. A procedure called a cystoscopy is performed where a small camera is inserted through the urethra into the bladder to visualize it. Through this camera is passed a special needle and Botox® is injected into the muscles through this. Following the procedure, a catheter may be placed to help empty the bladder and to allow for Botox® to exert its effects.
Once the injection is complete, it can take a few days for patients to notice the reduction in urgency to pass urine. Any urinary leakage that occurred prior to Botox® may also be treated. Patients usually report maximum benefit after a couple weeks of treatment. Effects usually last up to 9 months or so.
Botox® is relatively safe and any side-effects that may occur are mild. Patients may notice a small amount of blood in the urine following the procedure and this is common as needles have been used to inject the muscle. This side effect wears off in a few days. Infections may occur in the bladder and although rare can be effectively treated with antibiotics if needed. Allergic reactions have been reported but are also rare.
Botulinum toxin i.e. Botox® has come a long way in managing a variety of clinical conditions. In patients who suffer the embarrassing and distressing condition that is urinary incontinence due to detrusor muscle instability, Botox® injections can effectively relax the bladder wall, reduce incontinence and help patients regain their confidence. This is yet another application of Botox® that has been welcomed by the scientific community and patients as well.
Botox is a trademark of Allergan Inc.