FDA approves Botox to treat overactive bladder

Dr. Joseph Pettus is a practicing urologist.
Dr. Joseph Pettus is a practicing urologist.

MADISON, AL (WAFF) - Dr. Joseph Pettus is a practicing urologist. He's treated people with overactive bladder, an overpowering urge to urinate even when the bladder is not full that can result in leakage.

Now the Food and Drug Administration has cleared the way to use Botox to treat overactive bladder. Botox is often used for wrinkles, but is constantly gaining approval in other medical areas.

Pettus gave some examples such as "decreasing sweaty conditions and for having problems for headaches."

Until now, it has been used for neurological ailments.

"Most recently, what the FDA has said is that we can use this on patients who don't have a neurological condition, but have overactive bladder which has been unresponsive to the first line therapies," added Pettus.

Those may include drugs and even exercises. But there are concerns as with any new drug. "Currently it can be difficult to find insurance companies willing to pay for Botox into the bladder, but I suspect that as it has gotten FDA approval that you will see that improve - but it will take some time," added Pettus.

Pettus urges caution when embarking on something new. He said Botox isn't for everyone but a small, select group not responding to other remedies.

"The way that Botox works is that it's a poison that keeps muscles from being able to contract, and so in a patient who has an over active bladder, it relaxes the bladder. It helps the bladder to store more urine and help it to contract less frequently," he said. "The way it's done is the patient will typically need to be sedated if not put all the way to sleep, and we use a small scope which goes in through the urethra, and we inject the Botox directly into the bladder wall."

Side effects reported during clinical trials included urinary tract infections, painful urination, and urinary retention. Antibiotics are recommended before, during, and after treatment with Botox.

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