Neurostimulation for Urinary / Fecal Incontinence
If you or someone close to you is living with bladder or bowel control issues that cause incontinence, you know that it changes your life. You may no longer feel comfortable going to the grocery store, dining out with friends, taking a walk or going to church. Losing that freedom has a huge impact on your quality of life.
What makes it worse is that people who suffer from this problem — urinary or faecal incontinence — simply don’t talk about it. Not with family. Not even with their doctors. And that just increases the sense of isolation.
A 2014 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics found that half of older Americans experience urinary or bowel leakage; about 25% have moderate to very severe urinary leakage, and about 8% have moderate to very severe bowel leakage. That adds up to millions in the U.S. alone.
Think about the way a pacemaker works, regulating the heartbeat by sending electrical impulses to the heart. Now imagine that a variation of that same idea offers relief for overactive bladder, urinary retention, faecal incontinence and constipation.
The InterStim® II neurostimulator is that solution. A slim device, smaller than a quarter, is implanted in the hip to stimulate the sacral nerves that control the bladder and bowel with mild electrical pulses. Stimulating these nerves helps the bowel, rectum and bladder work as they should. The procedure is completely reversible, and its use can be discontinued at any time. It’s covered by Medicare and many insurance providers.
InterStim Therapy may be a good option for people who haven’t been helped by standard treatments or couldn’t tolerate them. An evaluation can let you see how well InterStim Therapy can help you.
The evaluation uses an outside neurostimulator, with a test lead that is inserted during a simple procedure. Throughout the evaluation phase, you track your bladder and/or bowel symptoms in a special diary. If your symptoms are greatly reduced or eliminated during the evaluation, you may benefit from long-term use of InterStim Sacral Neuromodulation Therapy.
The InterStim system is implanted with just a short outpatient procedure using local anesthetic.
The neurostimulator sends the electrical pulses through this thin wire to your sacral nerves. We will program the neurostimulator to give you the same stimulation as during your evaluation. We’ll also show you how to adjust the settings yourself, and how to turn your InterStim neurostimulator on or off.
People who have had InterStim Therapy for faecal incontinence have reported freedom from or a dramatic reduction in incontinence episodes, and freedom from the worry of leaks.
Those who have used it for constipation have reported major improvements in the number of bowel movements per week and freedom from abdominal pain.
Patients who have had InterStim Therapy for overactive bladder have reported major improvements in the number of incontinence episodes each week, with many being completely free of incontinence, as well as a major reduction in the number of daily visits to the restroom.
Those who have used it for urinary retention have reported an increase in the amount of urine produced on each visit to the restroom, and freedom from catheterization.
Show your InterStim identification card to medical staff before you undergo tests or treatments; caution is needed with some equipment, such as magnetic resonance imaging, monitors and diathermy equipment.
Let airport security staff know about your device to avoid possible problems with airport screening systems. Airport screening systems or theft detectors in stores or banks can cause the neurostimulator to turn off or on. If you need to pass through one of these devices, just switch off the neurostimulator before going through and turn it back on afterwards.
After several years, the neurostimulator battery will run down, and the electrical stimulation will become less effective. Your symptoms may reappear, but this is normal.
Simply let your doctor know so he or she can check the battery and decide whether to replace the neurostimulator. (Your patient programmer will also warn you if the neurostimulator battery is low.)