When most people see the words botulinum neurotoxin in print the first thing that springs to mind is probably botox and the vain people that use these injections to try to hang onto their fleeting youth. This is an understandable thought, but botulinum neurotoxin is also use medically for procedures that go far beyond just a cosmetic treatment. One of the most important uses for this is to treat overactive bladder syndrome.
The botulinum neurotoxin is a great choice because it is an effective way to block acetylcholine, which acts as a neurotransmitter and is the chemical directly in charge of contracting the bladder. Any patient that has experienced the constant, repetitive contractions that can strike almost hourly understands how important blocking this signal is. Stopping the acetycholine from transmitting takes a targeted effort and the botulinum toxin must be injected into very specific spots. This usually involves a cytoscope, which is a long, telescope-like instrument that allows a doctor to see into the bladder. The cytoscope can be used with a needle to deliver up to several dozen injections of botulinum neurotoxin into the bladder.
Once the injections are complete, the bladder muscle becomes partially paralyzed. This paralysis is not permanent, but can bring relief from contractions for two to three months. After this time, the patient will have to undergo treatment again. It may seem like an arduous process for just a few months of relief, but anyone suffering from overactive bladder syndrome knows the worth of even a day without these urges. The procedure only has a handful of side effects and none are serious. Blood in the urine and flu-like symptoms are the most common. This procedure is quick with minimal recovery and it is generally performed on an outpatient basis. This is not for everyone and is not recommended for a pregnant woman or a woman that is breastfeeding a newborn.