Over two decades of study point to promising advances for paralysis patients with neurogenic bladder dysfunction.
Online PR News – 07-June-2010 – – Coral Springs, FL May 20, 2010 – Patients suffering from a loss of bladder control due to paralysis can be cautiously optimistic about neurogenic treatment options still in the research phase. Dr. Bert Vorstman, Coral Springs urologist, recently returned from the American Urological Association meeting held in San Francisco, where researchers presented their work on urinary bladder reinnervation. The studies focused on the question of whether or not urinary bladder control can be restored through neural reconstructive surgery for patients suffering from paralysis and spinal cord birth defects.
Research into reinnervation, or bypassing a damaged area of the spinal cord to allow nerves to function normally, is not new. The idea of bladder reinnervation has roots in the early 1900s, with the concept first published as early as 1907. Dr. Vorstman performed research into reinnervation for bladder control in the early 1980s, with results published in the Journal of Urology in 1986. His investigations were the first to explore using nerve grafts with nerve crossover techniques.
Dr. Vorstman’s work was on the topic recognized by the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. It was also awarded a NIH research grant and a Masters in Surgery diploma from the University of Otago in New Zealand. He hopes that researchers in other areas of medicine will continue to advance his early work, providing realistic gains for patients affected by spina bifida and paralysis.
This early research and the more recent attempts like those showcased at the American Urological Association meeting have sparked interest into neural reconstructive surgery for bladder control in research centers around the globe. In China, for instance, studies on lumbar to sacral nerve root crossovers are currently underway.
So is this treatment going to be available in the near future for paralysis patients? Only time will tell. According to Dr. Vorstman, “Restoring nerve function to the urinary system is not as simple as disconnecting a wire and reconnecting it in another place. In fact, nerve crossover surgery is quite technical in nature. More research into successful techniques is needed.” Dr. Vorstman encourages the medical world and paralysis patients to view these bodies of research with 'cautious optimism.'
To date, researchers have not yet successfully bypassed a spinal cord injury or developmental defect to allow the restoration of bladder control. Research continues into developing techniques that enhance axonal regeneration, which is necessary for a natural micturition reflex.
About Dr. Vorstman
Dr. Bert Vorstman trained at Eastern Virginia Medical School and served on the staff of the Department of Urology at the University of Miami. He regularly presents material at both local and international meetings. Currently, Dr. Vorstman runs a private urology practice in Coral Springs, Florida, which specializes in minimally invasive techniques, such as HIFU, to treat localized prostate cancer. For more information or to contact Dr. Vorstman, visit www.hifurx.com