Botox and oral meds equally effective in treating incontinence in women, study says

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Botox injections and oral medications both work well in reducing urinary incontinence in women, though Botox is more likely to completely resolve symptoms, a recent study showed.

Researchers at Loyola University, Chicago, studied a group of 241 women with urinary urgency incontinence for six months. The women were split into two groups — one group was treated with a daily oral medication from a class of drugs known as anticholinergics, while women in the other group underwent one injection of onabotulinum toxin-A (Botox) to the bladder plus a daily oral placebo pill.

The average reduction in the frequency of urgency incontinence episodes for women taking the oral medication was 3.4 episodes per day. For women who were given Botox, the average reduction was 3.3. The proportion of women with complete resolution of urgency incontinence was 13% with anticholinergics and 27% with Botox, according to the study.

"Prior to this study, we reserved onabotulinum toxin-A for women who did not respond to traditional oral medication," study author Linda Brubaker, M.D., from Loyola University in Chicago. "However, this research supports the use of either of these approaches as appropriate first-line treatment in women."

The study was published in the most recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.