Urologists Stimulate Nerves Near Ankle To Treat Incontinence

June 05, 1998

DALLAS, Texas, June 5, 1998--Urologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas soon will test whether severe incontinence can be improved by applying electrical stimulation to a spot near the ankle to stimulate the nerves that affect bladder control.

Patients with urinary frequency, urgency, pelvic pain and uncontrollable urination, called urge incontinence, are needed for the study, which involves a series of outpatient procedures designed to relieve the debilitating symptoms.

"We have identified a point approximately three finger breadths above the ankle bone where nerves affecting bladder behavior can be modulated with this new technology," said Dr. Scott Litwiller, assistant professor of urology and leader of the Dallas study. "By stimulating the peripheral sacral nerve near the ankle, we can override some of the bladder stimulation that causes urgent and frequent urination and related pelvic pain. We hope patients will experience significant improvement."

UT Southwestern is one of four medical centers in the country that will test the "needle stimulation" therapy developed at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, where more than 90 patients have been treated successfully.

Patients in the UT Southwestern study will make weekly visits to the James W. Aston Ambulatory Care Center, where Litwiller will insert a fine needle about 2 inches above the patient's ankle. The needle will be used to electrically stimulate nerves using the battery-operated device called a percutaneous sacral nerve stimulator. The treatment session lasts 20 to 30 minutes and is performed once a week for 12 weeks. Patients then are tapered off the device over the following 20 weeks.

"There may be some tingling during the treatment," Litwiller said. "But it's easily tolerated and relatively pain free." For most patients with severe incontinence, the needle stimulation therapy is expected to be a significant improvement over an implant approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last fall that also electrically stimulates the nerves to improve bladder control. It requires permanent implantation of wires in the patient's back and a control box beneath the skin. "We are very excited about this new technology," Litwiller said.

Therapy to stimulate the sacral nerves is just one of the proven and experimental treatments for incontinence offered at the UT Southwestern Clinical Center for Bladder and Incontinence Treatment.

This month the center became one of 50 in the United States and the only in Dallas to participate in a new study for post-menopausal women who suffer from incontinence. The study is testing the efficacy of combining two therapies approved by the FDA: Estring, a vaginal ring that releases a low, continuous dose of estrogen, and tolterodine tartrate tablets, which received FDA approval in March as the first new medication in 20 years for bladder-control problems.

"We want to know whether these two therapies in combination are better than one alone," said Litwiller, who is conducting the study with Dr. Joseph Schaffer, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

For more information on incontinence studies at UT Southwestern, please call (214) 648-4868.
-end-


UT Southwestern Medical Center

Related Incontinence Articles from Brightsurf:

Higher risk of future fecal incontinence after sphincter injuries
The risk of subsequent fecal incontinence and intestinal gas leakage is significantly higher among women who, during childbirth, have suffered a sphincter injury and consequent damage to the anal sphincter muscle, was shown in a new study from the University of Gothenburg.

Kegels: Underused by women to treat and prevent urinary incontinence
Kegels are underused to treat and prevent urinary incontinence, especially during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

Magnetic stimulation dramatically improves fecal incontinence
Painless magnetic stimulation of nerves that regulate muscles in the anus and rectum appears to improve their function and dramatically reduce episodes of fecal incontinence, a debilitating problem affecting about 10% of the population, investigators report.

Does adding therapy before, after surgery for urinary incontinence help?
Adding behavioral and physical therapy before and after surgery for women with stress and urgency urinary incontinence resulted in a small improvement in symptoms compared to women who just had surgery but that difference in symptoms may not be clinically important.

Study shows advantages for stress urinary incontinence surgery
One of the most commonly performed surgeries to treat stress urinary incontinence in women may have better long-term results than another common surgical technique, according to a study led by Mayo Clinic researchers.

Childbirth delivery methods and risk of incontinence, overactive bladder
Pelvic floor disorders such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse (when one or more of theĀ pelvic organsĀ drop from their normal position) are associated with childbirth and affect millions of women in the United States.

Poll: Half of women over 50 experience incontinence, but most haven't talked to a doctor
Nearly half of women over 50 say they sometimes leak urine according to a new national poll.

Getting relief from sexual dysfunction and incontinence caused by menopause
Microablative fractional CO2 lasers are energy-based devices designed to help manage troublesome menopause symptoms such as painful sex, dryness, itching/burning, urinary frequency, and incontinence.

Overweight and obesity linked to higher risk of urinary incontinence for women
Being overweight or obese is linked with an increased risk of developing urinary incontinence for young to mid-aged women, according to an Obesity Reviews analysis of all relevant published studies.

WPSI says screen all women annually for urinary incontinence
All women should be screened annually for urinary incontinence, according to new guidelines from the Women's Preventive Services Initiative (WPSI).

Read More: Incontinence News and Incontinence Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.