Nearly twenty million Americans suffer from involuntary loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence) - eighty five percent of these are women. Incontinence is a problem of the urinary system, which is composed of two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder, and a urethra. The kidneys remove waste products from the blood and continuously produce urine. The ureters move urine from the kidneys to the bladder, where it is stored until it flows out of the body through the urethra. The sphincter is circular muscle that controls the activity of the urethra. It is not a part of the urinary system but can play a role in incontinence. Normally, the bladder stores the urine that is continually produced by the kidneys until it is convenient to urinate, but when any part of the urinary system malfunctions, incontinence can result. Mayo Clinic urology researchers are actively investigating drugs and treatments, developing novel therapies and conducting ongoing research into new treatments and minimally invasive procedures. The following are summaries of recent and current areas of research in urinary incontinence.
- The potential effects - both good and bad - of treatment with Zuidex gel on stress urinary incontinence. Zuidex is an investigational soft tissue bulking agent used to increase mass. The purpose of this treatment is to bring the urethral walls closer to each other in order to achieve better closure of the urethra.
- The use of cadaveric allograft material, especially given its advantages both during and after surgery, for use in urogynecologic procedures.
- The use of urethral caps and inserts in place of surgical options for patients who are not suitable surgery candidates.
- Non-surgical and minimally invasive surgical options for women with urinary incontinence using information based on a physical examination of the pelvic floor, assessing for the presence and strength of the voluntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles.
- The use of silicone Genitourinary Spheroidal Membrane (Genisphere), using a special delivery tool to cause coaptation of the urethral walls to treat urinary incontinence.