Pacemaker-like device solves overactive bladder problem
People suffering from an overactive bladder plan their lives around finding the nearest bathroom. They often cannot travel or even make it through a brief meeting without having to rush to the bathroom. People who suffer from stool incontinence find it miserable and unacceptable.
Medications can provide relief for some patients, but for others, the medications are inadequate or they cause intolerable side effects.
Visalia Medical Clinic now offers a simple procedure that is making a dramatic difference in the lives of these patients.
InterStim Therapy involves a pacemaker-like device placed under the skin in the fatty area of the lower buttock, explained VMC urologist Joseph Chidi, MD. The device delivers an electrical stimulation to the sacral nerves to control urgency, frequency and urinary retention.
“The bladder is designed to pee all the time, which is why babies just go,” Dr. Chidi explained. “The feeling of the need to go is always there, but as we mature, the brain modulates that feeling. With overactive bladders, however, the brain no longer communicates properly with the bladder and these patients feel the need to go all the time. It can be miserable and debilitating.”
The device is about the size of a silver dollar, and is connected to the sacral nerves by a very thin leadwire. Each patient undergoes a test of the device over several days. Once it is proven effective, Dr. Chidi performs the procedure to place it under the skin.
The procedure is considered a treatment reserved for that patient whose condition is not responding to medications, exercise and dietary changes, Dr. Chidi explained.
“We would want to be sure that other, less invasive, courses of treatment are not working before using this procedure,” he added. “But people who are wetting themselves all the time, or suffering from stool incontinence, are very miserable and it’s depressing for them. This procedure can deliver dramatic improvement in their quality of life.”
Overactive bladder is a condition that cannot be cured, but the procedure allows for effective management. Age can be a culprit in causing the condition, along with myriad other health conditions.
(Joseph Chidi, MD, is a urologist with Visalia Medical Clinic. For information or to make an appointment, call VMC at 739-2000 or visit vmchealth.com.)