Urinary incontinence in women can be corrected by transplanting the patient’s own muscle-derived stem cells into the urethra to strengthen it, scientists said Monday.
The outpatient procedure takes only 15 to 20 minutes and many patients have no leakage within 24 hours, said the report from the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria.
“We believe we have developed a long-lasting and effective treatment that is especially promising because it is generated from the patient’s own body,” said Ferdinand Frauscher, associate professor of radiology at the school.
“Urinary incontinence is a major problem for women, and for an increasing number of men,” he added in a report released at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
He said the stem cells are removed from a patient’s arm, cultured in a lab for six weeks and then injected into the wall of the urethra and into the sphincter muscle, restoring muscle mass and contractility.
About 15 million people around the world, primarily women, suffer from stress incontinence in which urine leakage occurs when an individual exercises, coughs, sneezes, laughs or lifts heavy objects, the report said.
The procedure was successfully done on 20 women aged 36 to 84, the report said.
“These are very intelligent cells,” Frauscher said. “Not only do they stay where they are injected, but also they quickly form new muscle tissue and when the muscle mass reaches the appropriate size, the cell growth ceases automatically.”
He said a key to the procedure is the use of three-dimensional ultrasound which allows doctors to see exactly where the cells must be placed to make the correction needed.
He added that the cost of the stem cell procedure was comparable to two popular treatments for incontinence -- the long term purchase of adult diapers or collagen injections, which may not be effective for more than a year.