Boxtox used to treat overactive bladders



Posted on April 5, 2010 at 5:40 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:45 AM

It's well known for its cosmetic uses, but doctors say Botox may also be the key to helping millions of Americans who suffer from overactive bladders and don't find relief from traditional treatments.

It's an annoying problem that's plagued 29-year-old Claudia Angel for years.

"If you're going to the restroom a couple times a day you don't really notice it, but when the numbers start adding up to where it's 40, 50, 60 times a day, the pain you get from it, the physical pain is not fun at all," said Angel.

She tried medications, pelvic exercises, even an implant, but nothing helped.

"I didn't know what to do anymore. I thought 'Oh my god, this is going to be the rest of my life?'" she said.

Claudia became a test patient for an experimental treatment. Under a local anesthetic, urologist Dr. Angelo Gousse, professor of urology and the UM Miller School of Medicine, threads a needle through a scope with a camera mounted on it. As it passes through the urethra, the doctor injects Botox directly into the bladder.

"What it does is it tends to kind of numb, if you would, not only the muscle but also the nerves that are located within the wall of the urinary bladder, and so for this reason it also helps significantly with the sense of urgency," said Gousse.

Doctors say 75 percent of patients report significant improvement in symptoms. Claudia felt the difference after her first treatment.

"Awesome," said Angel. "I was very excited the first day that I noticed it. I called my husband and I said, 'Do you know I haven't gone to the bathroom in like eight hours?'"

Now, for the first time in years, she feels like she's in control.

Each treatment lasts four to six months and costs about a $1,000.

Claudia says her Botox injections were not covered by insurance.