11 January 2019

New non-invasive treatment for incontinence approved by FDA

Could this new treatment offer hope to so many who experience urinary incontinence?

A new non-invasive device to treat urinary incontinence has recently been approved by the FDA, according to reports.

This device emits impulses that safely and effectively activate the muscles of the pelvic floor via patented technology. The device is handheld and can be used by the patient in their own home without having to undergo invasive, potentially risky surgery.

As reported previously by Health24, mesh implants aren't always ideal for those who experience urinary incontinence and often have serious side-effects, such as pain, infection, or even exacerbated incontinence. And complete removal of these implants may also be problematic as tissue grows through and around the mesh. 

A promising device 

Data from the clinical trials have shown that more than 87% of patients who tested the device experienced zero to mild occurrences of incontinence. And improvement was seen in 93% of the patients after only four weeks.

“The burden associated goes far beyond the cost of pads as medical and psychological morbidity in addition to quality of life are profoundly impacted,” Ruth Maher, PT, PhD, DPT, assistant professor of physical therapy at Creighton and director of the Women’s Health Residency Program, said in a recent statement.

“It has a huge impact on the quality of life for women. Women will plan outings around available restrooms, choose not to wear certain clothes for fear of ruining them from leakage and severely curtail their exercise regimens which can have a severe impact on their health across their lifespan. Additionally, this type of incontinence can impede intimacy for up to 65% of women because of leakage during sex,” she says.

Pelvic floor exercises not always enough

This new device is reported to help woman actively control urinary incontinence rather than simply living with it. While pelvic floor exercise is usually the first thing recommended and deemed effective, it’s unfortunately not a realistic step for everyone.

Maher says, “The correct use of pelvic floor exercises can be difficult to teach women since the muscles control pressure in the lumbopelvic region and in bowel and bladder regions, rather than a joint. Consequently, clinicians often struggle assessing whether the right muscles are being used by a patient without the aid of a digital pelvic floor exam or some type of imaging.”

According to Maher, up to 40% of women are unable to correctly contract their pelvic muscles in order to strengthen and stimulate it, but this is where the device bridges a gap.

“The INNOVO therapy device facilitates a pelvic floor contraction and reproduces the same contraction consistently. The benefit of this is twofold – the strength and coordination of the pelvic floor improves, but more importantly, the device improves the user’s awareness of their pelvic floor and improves their ability to perform appropriate contractions without the device,” she said.

While it’s not known when the device will be readily available and whether it will be employed in South Africa, it’s important always to speak to a doctor or urologist who can talk you through locally available treatment options that may work for your type of incontinence.

Image credit: iStock


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Incontinence Expert

Dr Prenevin Govender completed his MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2001. He obtained his Fellowship of the College of Urologists in 2009 and graduated with distinction for a Masters in Medicine from the University of Cape Town in 2010. His special interests include laparoscopic, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery. He consults full-time at Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont.

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