Researchers review effectiveness of Botox injections for overactive bladder symptoms

AN INNOVATIVE treatment helping patients with overactive bladder symptoms lead normal lives again has been licensed for use by the UK’s medicines watchdog following a landmark study in which Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust played a leading role.

Researchers from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, led by consultant urologist Professor Chris Chapple, undertook the largest wide-ranging review of the effectiveness of Botox injections in relieving overactive bladder symptoms when dietary and fluid intake interventions fail.

The pioneering study highlighted that Botox injections – which are given through a flexible instrument inserted into the bladder – are three times more likely to relieve overactive bladder symptoms after 12 weeks compared to conventional drug therapies. This could be critical in helping sufferers overcome an illness which they are often too embarrassed to seek help or support for.

Overactive bladder symptoms are estimated to affect around 19% of the population, and can have a significant impact on the quality of people’s lives – impinging on routine activities such as sleep, work life, and even sexual intimacy. A typical patient will describe knowing where all the toilets are before going out, planning journeys according to toilet locations and having to run to the toilet on hearing running water or turning the house key. In severe cases, patients are so debilitated by their condition they are unable to go on a long car journey or sit through a film without stopping to go to the toilet.

Professor Chris Chapple, consultant urologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Contrary to popular belief, overactive bladder symptoms affect men and women of all ages, not just the elderly. Symptoms can have a shocking effect on patients’ lives, taking their toll on patients’ social and mental well-being to the point where many face huge disruptions at work or are unable to attempt leisurely outings without military-precision planning.” 

“The EMBARK study highlighted that patients who took Botox to relieve overactive bladder symptoms noticed significant improvements in bladder control within 12 weeks and fewer side effects such as constipation and dry mouth. There was also a smaller risk of urine infection, so I’m delighted that Botox injections have been licensed for use by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Agency. This means we can begin giving our patients an effective treatment if lifestyle and dietary interventions fail which may help them regain control of their bladder for up to six months. For some, this could be life-changing.”

The study involved 1,100 patients who took part in the trial from sites across the UK, the US and Europe.



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