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Improving Bladder Function with InterStim Therapy

Bladder Function

Normal bladder function--storing and then emptying your urine--has two components: muscle and nerve. Disturbance in normal bladder function can result in troublesome symptoms such as involuntary loss of urine (incontinence), abnormally strong sensations to void (urgency), or voiding frequently. Medications work on improving the muscle function of the bladder. InterStim therapy works on the nerve function of the bladder. When traditional treatments such as medications, physical therapy, and dietary modification do not deliver the results you were hoping for, it may be that it is more of a bladder nerve dysfunction and InterStim may help.

What is InterStim?

InterStim Therapy is a proven Neuromodulation therapy that targets the communication problem between the body and the nerves that control the bladder. If those nerves are not communicating correctly, the bladder will not function properly.

The InterStim system uses an external device during a trial assessment period and an internal device for long-term therapy.

InterStim Therapy was created by Medtronic, the developer of the pacemaker, and has been FDA approved since 1997 for urge incontinence, and since 1999 for urinary retention (difficulty urinating), as well as urgency-frequency.

How can I tell if this therapy will work for me?

A test has been created so you can assess how well InterStim Therapy may work for you without making a long-term commitment. Your physician will numb your skin with local anesthetic and then place two flexible tiny wires under the skin near the tail bone. The nerves that control bladder function are found near this area.

The two thin wires will be attached to an external device which will accompany you for approximately three to five days. The device will provide mild pulses of energy to the nerves that control the bladder as you return to your normal activities. Over the course of the test period, if you show an improvement in symptoms of 50% or greater, you may be a good candidate for InterStim therapy.

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