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Internal Medicine

Regenerative Medicine Approaches to the Treatment of Urinary Incontinence


Urinary incontinence affects more than 20% of spayed female dogs, with medium and large breeds more commonly affected. In the majority of the cases urinary incontinence is caused by dysfunction of the muscles controlling the urethral sphincter. This results in uncontrolled loss of urine and can lead to serious bladder and kidney infections, in addition to irritation and/or ulceration of the skin in contact with the urine. The purpose of this project is to examine the usefulness of cultured muscle cells for the restoration of function of the urethral sphincter in dogs with naturally occurring urinary incontinence.

Study Design:

Dogs will be evaluated for eligibility by the Internal Medicine Service at the NC State Veterinary Health Complex. Upon your consent, eligible dogs will have a small muscle biopsy collected; muscle stem cells will be isolated and grown in culture. After the cells have been grown, they will be injected into the urethral muscle either surgically or cystoscopically while the dog is under general anesthesia. Dogs will be followed for a period of 24 months to determine the long-term effects of the procedure.


All initial and follow-up visits will be performed at the NCSU Randall B. Terry, Jr. Companion Animal Veterinary Medical Center.


Female dogs diagnosed with Urethral Sphincter Mechanism Incompetence (USMI) or “spay incontinence”, that have failed prior medical management, are eligible to participate in this study.

Dogs should be in generally good health and have no illnesses that may interfere with the study evaluation.

Dogs newly diagnosed with USMI are eligible to participate, as are dogs already diagnosed and undergoing treatment for USMI.

Study Incentives:

Study visits, anesthesia, biopsy, and stem cell injection (surgical orcystoscopic) will be provided at no cost to the owner


Tonya Harris:

Page last updated December 01, 2014