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Beaumont Sees Results in Nation's 1st Urinary Nerve Rewiring Surgeries for Spina Bifida Patients

ROYAL OAK, Mich., April 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Seven children from across the United States are gaining bladder control through a revolutionary, first-in-the-nation nerve rerouting surgery for patients with spina bifida. The surgeries were conducted in 2007 at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

The children previously required the insertion of a catheter to empty their bladder or endured significant incontinence. But as a result of the surgery, they are beginning to void on their own and are also seeing improvement in bowel function. Initially they signaled the bladder to urinate by scratching or pinching their leg or buttocks. But, remarkably, in most patients, the brain was able to take over and control urination normally.

This will allow them to attend school without being catheterized and to play with other children without the embarrassment of soiling themselves. It also means fewer urinary tract infections resulting from catheterization, and reduces their need for antibiotics for infection control.

"These are still considered early results but we are excited to see them," says Kenneth Peters, M.D., chairman of the Urology department at Beaumont, Royal Oak. "It's still too early to see results on the two adult patients with spinal cord injuries who also had the surgery."

Results of Dr. Peters' research on nerve rerouting surgery are to be presented in May at the American Urological Association annual meeting.

Local philanthropists J. Peter and Florine Ministrelli of West Bloomfield, Mich. underwrote the cost of the surgeries. They have also funded the Ministrelli Program for Urology Research and Education at Beaumont, which enables Beaumont to continue its leadership through the purchase of equipment, the expansion of education and research efforts and bringing innovative treatments to patients.

In spinal cord injury and spina bifida, the nerves that control the bladder and sphincter are damaged. People cannot urinate without the use of a catheter or are constantly wet. Most experience recurrent urinary tract infections. Also, backup of urine into the kidneys can damage these delicate organs. As a result, kidney dialysis or transplant may be required.

The research at Beaumont uses a spinal surgery pioneered in China to redirect nerves from the leg to the bladder to gain better control of urination. Beaumont is the only U.S. hospital performing this surgery, and patients have traveled from as far as Utah and Pennsylvania to have it. The Chinese doctor who developed the surgery, Chuan-Guo Xiao, M.D., reports an almost 90-percent success rate and an average time for results of 12-24 months after surgery.

"In a stunning reversal of the exchange of information and technology, which typically originates in the United States and is exported to countries like China, we are able to offer these patients urinary function and dramatically improved their quality of life," says Dr. Peters. "We are grateful to Dr. Xiao and to the patients in this study who are truly medical pioneers."

Possible side effects of the surgery include mild postoperative spinal fluid leakage, lower extremity weakness and headache. Recent changes in the surgical technique have dramatically decreased the incidence of these complications. Standard risks associated with any surgery may include bleeding and infection.

The surgical team that worked with Dr. Peters at Beaumont includes Dr. Xiao; Ananias Diokno, M.D., Beaumont Hospitals' chief medical officer; and urologist Jose Gonzalez, M.D.

"Nerve rerouting is an example of Beaumont's leadership in translational research that applies research results to clinical care that is life changing for our patients," says Dr. Diokno.

Call study coordinator Cindy Turzewski, R.N., at 248-551-3355 or e-mail her at, for more information on the nerve rerouting research.

Beaumont's 1,061-bed hospital in Royal Oak is a major academic, research and referral center with Level I trauma designation. It ranks first in the United States for inpatient admissions and second for surgical volume. Beaumont, Royal Oak is named in nine medical specialties on the U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Hospitals" list, ranking 31st as a top hospital for urology. Visit Beaumont's Web site at

SOURCE William Beaumont Hospital
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