Emory Report

January 24, 2000

 Volume 52, No. 18

Keane tries magnetic therapy for male incontinence study

by Holly Korschun

Emory urologists are participating in a clinical study that uses noninvasive magnetic therapy to treat urinary incontinence in men who have undergone radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate) for prostate cancer.

The study, sponsored the Atlanta-based medical firm Neotonus Inc., offers hope to the 330,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, many of whom will require prostate surgery, which is the leading cause of bladder control problems in men.

The innovative treatment, called "extracorporeal magnetic innervation," uses powerful, pulsing magnetic fields to strengthen the pelvic muscles that affect bladder control. It is estimated that up to 65 percent of men who have undergone radical prostatectomy experience some lack of bladder control six months or longer following surgery.

Patients undergoing the therapy sit fully clothed on a chair in a doctor's office or clinic for 20 minutes at time, twice a week, for eight to 10 weeks. The electromagnetic fields produced by magnetic coils penetrate the soft tissue of the perineum and stimulate the nerves and muscles of the pelvic floor and sphincter muscles to create muscle strength and endurance. The magnets do not touch the skin, and there is no pain.

"Urinary incontinence is a significant problem for some men following surgery for prostate cancer," said Thomas Keane, an assistant professor of urology and leader of the Emory arm of the study.

"Although a surgical technique has improved continence rates, thus far our options have been quite limited. An effective and noninvasive treatment would be a notable breakthrough that could produce a marked improvement in quality of life."

Emory neurologist Charles Epstein invented the magnetic stimulation coils used in the new therapy in conjunction with Kent Davey, former faculty member at Georgia Tech. Niall Galloway, medical director of the Emory Continence Center, has led the Univer-sity's participation in a series of nationwide clinical trials leading to Food & Drug Administration approval last year of the Neotonus-developed Neocontrol Pelvic Floor Therapy System, which uses the magnetic stimulation therapy to treat women with stress urinary incontinence.

Currently the Neocontrol system is in use by more than 125 urology and obstetrics/gynecology practices throughout the United States and 10 other countries. More than 16,000 women have received the treatment.

The new multicenter trial using magnets to treat men includes Emory, the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, the University of Washington and Eastern Virginia Medical School.

Patients who would like more information about the study should call the Emory HealthConnection at 404-778-7777.

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