After a recent surgery, Betty Ann Peddicord, a volunteer chaplain for TriHealth, found herself with an overactive bladder. This condition—an urgent need to urinate caused by irregular contractions of the bladder muscle—is common in both men and women, particularly as people age.
In some patients, the severity is moderate and symptoms can be treated with dietary modifications and exercises to strengthen the muscles that control urination. However, in many patients the symptoms are severe and have a debilitating impact on quality of life. While medications are available to treat overactive bladder, they don’t always work.
Betty Ann tried several different treatments but her symptoms didn’t improve. So her doctor, Rachel Pauls, M.D., a physician partner at TriHealth’s Cincinnati Urogynecology Associates, recommended a newer treatment that has very few side effects and is extremely effective: Botox. Botox? Yes, the same treatment used to smooth wrinkles has been approved to treat overactive bladder.
Botox is a muscle paralytic. “It calms the muscle, causing it to stop contracting,” explains Dr. Pauls. “It alleviates overactive bladder because the condition is a result of the bladder muscle having inappropriate spasms. It’s a tremendously advantageous therapy.”
Treatment is done in the doctor’s office and takes a little over an hour, including preparation time. The actual procedure takes only five minutes. After placing a numbing solution in the bladder, a scope with a camera is inserted and Botox is injected directly through the scope into the bladder wall.
Betty Ann’s experience was highly positive. “It was so easy,” she says. “It was over before I knew it had started. The recovery was nothing, and I noticed longer periods of not having to go to the bathroom very soon after my treatment.”
Patients can expect relief from symptoms for six to nine months. After that, they simply need to return for another treatment.
“Only having to come to the office every six to nine months for a short procedure is very liberating to the patient’s quality of life,” says Dr. Pauls. “It really is a game changer to have this. Patients spend hundreds of dollars on medication for this condition, but Botox doesn’t have that cost. In addition, it doesn’t have the side effects of the other medications, and patients don’t have to worry about negative drug interactions with this treatment. For anyone who’s been failed by medical management, this is a fantastic next step.”
Betty Ann has recommended the procedure to others. “I’ve talked about it with other people because nobody knows you can use Botox for this,” she says. “It’s not painful at all, and I had no problems afterward.” She’s ready for a second round of treatment so she can enjoy a cruise with her daughters for her upcoming birthday.