Botox could help patients with multiple sclerosis

June 4, 2012

"I've been trapped in an old person's body forever. I was 25 years old when I was diagnosed with MS," said Barbara Garcia.

Twenty years later, Garcia couldn't move without help. She had a narrowing in the jugular veins. She was one of the first MS patients to have a venoplasty. Dye was injected into the jugular veins to locate the narrowed area, and a balloon was inserted into the vein and inflated to restore blood flow from the brain.

"She started having improvements on the table," said Dr. Bulent Arslan, associate professor of radiology at the University of South Florida.

Garcia said after four hours of recovery time, she was able to get up and walk around her bed.

While Audrey Mirels uses a wheelchair at times, it's not her walking that bothered her. It was another side effect of MS that was holding her hostage.

"I was making the bathroom my world. I was going every two minutes," she said.

Thousands of MS patients suffer from incontinence and overactive bladder. The first line of defense is oral medication, but if that doesn't work, the FDA has recently approved Botox.

"The Botox basically relaxes the spastic muscles nature," said Dr. Farzeen Firoozi, urologist at the Arthur Smith Institute for Urology.

Patients receive 10 to 30 injections into the bladder wall. The Botox starts working within a week and lasts for up to nine months.

"I don't have to go to the bathroom that much, and I sleep through the night," Mirels said.

While neither of these procedures are a cure, a majority of patients who've had both say their lives were changed for the better after they had it.

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