YOUR HEALTH: Why Botox could help your bladder control

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BALTIMORE, Maryland – For 65-year old Karan Kipp, the doctor's office used to be as far as she would venture from home.
She was always racing to the restroom.

"I have the feeling I have to go to the bathroom and by the time I was moving I was gushing," she recalled.

Karan tried medication, adjusted her diet, did kegel exercises to strengthen weakened muscles.  Nothing worked.

Urogynecologist Mark Ellerkmann suggested another option: a shot of Botox for the bladder.

"Botox is a potent neurotoxin and it basically is produced by a bacteria called clostridium and in small amounts can be helpful at paralyzing the muscle," said Dr. Ellerkmann of the Weinberg Center for Women`s Health and Medicine at Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center.

For Karan, it's a humorous irony.

"My grandma always called your area down there your Susie, and I thought, 'Oh my god, my Susie's getting botox before my face."

The procedure is done under light sedation using a tiny tool called a cystoscope.

"Using a small camera and a scope we fill the bladder up with water or saline, and then we take a very tiny needle and inject the Botox," explained Dr. Ellerkmann.

Doctors make about 20 injections into the bladder.  Karan said she noticed the difference right away.

"It was gone. I was in control. It wasn't like I stopped drinking water or anything like that. I was in control."

Dr. Ellerkmann says the procedure can be repeated if needed, but patients need to wait at least three months between injections.

NEW TREATMENT:  Botox is now being used as a different treatment option because it works on the bladder
muscle by blocking the nerve signals that trigger overactive bladder.   Because Botox is a potent neurotoxin and
it is produced by a bacteria called clostridium, in small amounts it can be helpful at paralyzing the bladder
muscle.   This treatment option might be helpful for those who haven`t responded to other medications.   After
using local, regional, or general anesthesia to numb the bladder, the urologist will make small injections in the
bladder wall, where the bladder muscle is located.   The patient can also opt for no anesthesia.   The urologist can
do this either in the hospital or in his or her office as an outpatient procedure. The entire process can take less
than an hour, and benefits can last several months.   Studies have found that Botox significantly improves
symptoms of incontinence and causes few side effects.   By reducing bladder contractions, Botox can help
reduce weekly urinary leakage episodes, increase bladder capacity, and decrease the pressure in your bladder.

Botox is FDA approved for treating overactive bladder and is covered by most insurance companies.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

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