Incontinence Treatments Archives

Doctors Studying

A 2012 clinical trial by the Medical College of Wisconsin is examining the potential of a FDA-approved device called InTone®. Over three months, female participants will be observed in order to assess how well the device addresses stress incontinence, urge incontinence, or mixed incontinence. This research is bound to be of interest to the 25 million women in the United States who live with one of these forms of incontinence.

Current treatment for urinary incontinence ranges from simply dealing with symptoms, trying to strengthen the pelvic floor, prescribing medications, or opting for surgery. The InTone® device unites mild micro-current stimulation, pelvic floor exercises, and biofeedback that has been personalized for the patient by a physician. Done in the privacy of one’s home, the daily exercises take 10 minutes. The device measures pressure in the pelvic floor, and sends two weeks’ worth of results back to the physician for analysis and progress evaluation.

Designers of the clinical trial anticipate that with daily use, users of InTone® will see less instances of incontinence within three months.

Happy Man

A technology that has been successfully used in other medical procedures is now being applied during surgery to help prevent incontinence and erectile dysfunction for men undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. Approved for use in the UK, the ProPep Nerve Monitoring System can precisely identify nerves around the prostate gland, thereby helping surgeons avoid damaging them.

It is estimated that approximately 30% of prostate cancer patients experience some erectile dysfunction after surgery to remove their prostate glands. While often these effects are temporary, for one in five men, they can last longer than two years, greatly impacting their quality of life.

Currently, doctors rely on anatomical markers to gauge proximity to these nerves, which is not precise. This technological advancement can assist surgeons in avoiding these nerves by placing electrodes in the tissue surrounding the prostate and urethra and sending a small electric current through the tissue. Because nerves are excellent electricity transmitters, the ProPep emits a signal when nerves are detected.

There are many options available for urinary incontinence treatments depending on the type of urinary incontinence, the severity and frequency of urinary leaks, the patient’s lifestyle, activity level and personal preferences. To determine the treatment options available for a patient, the physician completes a thorough physical examination, enquires about the patient’s medical history and assesses the patients current drug intake. The treatment options include a range of noninvasive measures, interventional therapies, devices and invasive surgical treatment. For most incontinence patients, combining two or more methods of treatment usually works best to reduce or completely eliminate urinary leakage.

Non invasive measures are almost always the first lines of treatment, either alone or coupled with other treatment options. The initial treatment steps include some behavioural modification techniques aimed at attacking the lifestyle factors, which precipitate or worsen urinary incontinence. Such lifestyle modifications include losing weight, reducing intake of caffeinated beverages and going to the toilet by the clock rather than waiting for the urge to urinate. Physicians may also deem it necessary to change prescription drugs known to increase urine volume (called diuretics), or drugs known to weaken voluntary control over urine such as sedatives and drugs that cause muscle relaxation.

The most common, and by far the most useful, non invasive measure prescribed to most incontinence patients is physical therapy to strengthen the muscles controlling the flow of urine. These muscles are known as the pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor muscles can be strengthened through regular exercises, known as Kegel exercises, or through electrical stimulation using small electrodes inserted through the vagina or rectum. Pelvic floor muscle strengthening usually benefits urge and stress incontinence greatly. However, the results are not immediately observed. It is a long-term commitment which may take many months before any improvement is felt. This makes most patients quit. And although it is a very effective and safe approach, the poor patient compliance makes it necessary in most instances to add another back up measure, such as medications to help tighten the bladder neck muscles or prevent unintended bladder contraction.

If medications and the above simple measures are not enough, doctors may opt for the use of medical devices or interventional therapies. Most medical devices, like the pessary and the bladder neck support device, are designed with the female in mind. They function by holding up the bladder to prevent leakage. Devices that seal the urethra to prevent urine escaping are also sometimes used.

Interventional therapies are aimed at causing contraction or spasm of the muscle which allows urine to escape from the bladder into the urethra. These therapies include botulinum toxin injection and an implantable device known as the sacral nerve stimulator.

When all else fails, a doctor may opt for surgery for urinary incontinence treatments. There are many procedures available but the most commonly preformed are sling procedures in which a surgeon places a sling around the junction between the bladder and the urethra to keep it closed unless the patient voluntarily urinates.

It is important to remember that surgery is a last resort. Given enough time and dedication, most incontinence treatments significantly improve the symptoms and severity of urinary incontinence, and quite often they cure it completely.

Disclaimer: All material published on the web site is for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by your doctor or health professional. Readers should always discuss health matters and review the information carefully with their doctor or health care professional. Extended Disclaimer
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