Overactive bladder symptoms, which include urinary incontinence, frequent and urgent need to urinate, as well as problems emptying the bladder. are treatable. Medications for overactive bladder generally work, but they are not targeted and they have side effects such as dry mouth, blurry vision, foggy thinking, and constipation.
InterStim, however, is a targeted therapy. It is a nerve stimulator, like a pacemaker, about the size of a silver dollar, that is implanted under the skin. A thin wire carries mild electrical pulses to the sacral nerves, which control the pelvic floor, including the bowel and the bladder. A hand-held patient programmer allows individuals to adjust the strength of the stimulation and to turn the system on or off. InterStim therapy brings order to the haphazard nerve stimulation that characterizes overactive bladder.
Before it is permanently implanted, the InterStim device is tested on a patient. The patient wears it for a couple of days, which allows the physician to gauge its effectiveness and determine if it’s a good treatment for that individual. Most importantly, it gives the patient an idea of what to expect.
The device’s effect is apparent immediately, and patients are sometimes amazed to get so much symptom relief so quickly. If the patient and the InterStim therapy are a good match, the device can be implanted during outpatient surgery with local anesthesia. It requires only a small incision in the lower back to insert an electrode next to the sacral nerves. The neurostimulator sends the electrical pulses through this thin wire to your sacral nerves.
If the result is good, the patient can stop taking all bladder control medications, and then will require only a checkup once a year to make sure everything is working well.
Talk to a physician at Colorado Urology about neuromodulation for the treatment of OAB symptoms and to see if InterStim is right for you. Read more about overactive bladder symptoms and treatments.