Senior author Dr. Susan F. Meikle of the National Institutes of Health's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and Dr. Anthony G. Visco of Duke University Medical Center, in Durham, N.C., compared the effectiveness of Botox injections to oral anti-cholinergic medications for treating urge urinary incontinence in women.
Anti-cholinergic medications reduce bladder contraction by targeting the bladder muscle through the nervous system, but many women have unpleasant side effects, including constipation, dry mouth and dry eyes.
Nearly 250 women -- average age 58 -- participated in the trial comparing Botox injections with anti-cholinergic medications.
The findings, published online in the New England Journal of Medicine, found the proportion of women receiving Botox whose urinary leakage went away six months after starting treatment was twice that of the group taking oral medication. However, women in the Botox group were more likely to experience incomplete bladder emptying or bladder infections, while the women taking the medication were a little more likely to report that they had dry mouth.
"This is the first study to compare the effectiveness of Botox treatments to oral medication," Meikle said in a statement. "Previously, Botox was reserved for women who had tried oral medications but found them ineffective. Because we included some women who had not been treated with oral medication before, these results suggest that Botox could be discussed as an option for first line treatment."