Two studies presented at the 103rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA), show that patients with incontinence resulting from iatrogenic sphincter damage may benefit from stem cell therapy. Incontinence after a radical prostatectomy for the treatment of prostate cancer can be a result in damage to the external urinary sphincter and would fall within this category.

In one study, a research team successfully implanted muscle-derived stem cells grown from tissue from the patient’s deltoid muscles into the damaged sphincter.

One year later, four patients were completely continent and 19 patients had improved from grade III to grade I incontinence. More than half of the patients experiencing an improvement in continence after four months, the use of muscle-derived cells to repair sphincter damage proved safe and successful. Minor side effects were observed in five patients.

A second study which used muscle cells from the upper arms of 65 incontinent men who had undergone a prostatectomy reaffirmed these findings. Prior to the stem cell therapy, the mean number of pads used per day by each man was 4.89, and after treatment, the mean number of pads decreased to 1.59, while 27.9 percent of patients did not wear pads at all and 43.6 percent reported that they only required a pad for “special occasions.” Only 28.5 percent of patients still required pads.

The use of implanted muscle-derived stem cells should be considered to help reduce or even eliminate incontinence which results after prostate cancer surgery.

Journal references:
1. Otto T, Eimer C, Gerullis H: Repair of iatrogenic sphincter damage and urinary incontinence by autologous skeletal muscle derived (MDC). J Urol, suppl., 2008; 179: 484, abstract 1414.

2. Strasser H, Mitterberger M, Dalpiaz O, Kerschbaumer A, Pinggera GM, Frauscher F et al: Transurethral ultrasound guided injection of autologous myo- and fibroblasts in treatment of incontinence in men: 2 year data. J Urol, suppl., 2008; 179: 483, abstract 1413.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW