For men and women experiencing symptoms of overactive bladder (OAB), there are options for treatment that can help improve your quality of life. For individuals who have tried other treatments for OAB such as medications, with little or no success, neuromodulation therapy may be right for you.
Neuromodulation therapy works by addressing the communication lapse between your brain and the nerves that control your bladder. When these nerves are not
communicating properly, the bladder has problems functioning as it should, resulting in incontinence issues.
OAB in men
OAB in women
The sacral nerves, located near your tailbone, carry signals between your nerves and the bladder and work to control the bladder and muscles related to urinary function. In OAB, these nerve signals do not communicate effectively with your brain resulting in bladder control problems.
InterStim therapy stimulates the sacral nerves with mild electrical pulses to modulate the communications signals with the brain. This treatment is safe and effective and is a viable option for patients who have not had success with lifestyle changes and first line therapies for OAB.
InterStim Therapy is covered by Medicare in all 50 states and it is also covered by many major private insurance companies.
How Does InterStim Therapy Work?
The InterStim system uses a small neurotransmitter device that can be compared to a pacemaker. To make certain this therapy is right for you, your doctor will start you with a test stimulator that does not require surgery. The test typically lasts five to seven days. The test stimulator involves temporary placement of a thin wire that is worn in your lower back. The wire is connected to a small external stimulator which is worn on a belt around your waist. The stimulator sends mild electrical impulses through the wire to one of your sacral nerves to “jump start” your bladder and stimulate it to work properly.
Implanting the Interstim Device
If your doctor determines that you’re the right candidate for this treatment, the InterStim neurostimulator device can be easily implanted under the skin in your upper buttock during a short surgical procedure. You will also have a small incision in your lower back where your doctor will place a long-term electrode. The neurostimulator will send electrical pulses through the electrode to one of your sacral nerves. You will also receive a patient programmer which tells you if the stimulation is on or off and the level of stimulation. Your doctor will set the stimulator to a level that is most effective for controlling your urinary symptoms.
Side effects of InterStim therapy are uncommon but may include pain, skin irritation, infection, device problems, and lead migration. In a clinical study, however, these side effects were resolved in most cases.