What Is InterStim?
InterStim is an implanted device that helps to resolve symptoms associated with an overactive bladder.
How Does InterStim Work?
InterStim consists of a very small unit with attached wires. The device is implanted into the lower back near the sacrum where the sacral nerves are located. These nerves are responsible for controlling bladder function. According to Dr. Graham, “when a patient is suffering from an overactive bladder, and medication therapies have failed, it generally indicates a miscommunication happening between the brain and the nerve, causing the message to be interrupted somewhere along the nerve pathway.” InterStim attaches to the nerve pathway and uses electrical impulses to clear the path and help the correct message get through.
Who Can Get InterStim?
Patients must meet certain criteria before being considered for InterStim. Patients must be suffering from symptoms of overactive bladder. The patient will have already attempted therapy using at least two medications with unsuccessful results. The patient will have already undergone thorough diagnostic imaging of the pelvic organs and urinary tract to ensure there is not a blockage causing symptoms. InterStim should not be used in patients suspected of a urinary blockage. Before InterStim can be inserted, a trial must be performed to assess the patient’s response to the therapy. To do this, the patient will have the wires inserted through the back and held in place with a few small stitches, leaving the control device outside the body. The patient will assume their normal activities with the device in place for at least a week. If the patient has at least a 50% reduction in symptoms during the trial period, they will be considered eligible for a full implant. Typically, only about 4% of the patient population will qualify for InterStim based on this criteria, while others will use the overwhelming variety of effective medications and alternative therapies available.
Is InterStim a Difficult Procedure?
While InterStim does require surgical implantation, the procedure is not difficult. InterStim implantation is generally performed as same day surgery, allowing the patient to be back home by the evening.
Pros and Cons
Patients in the Staunton area should be mindful of the benefits and the possible negative side effects of going forward with InterStim. A great advantage of InterStim is the ability to do a trial run of the device before insertion. Patients are able to feel what it is like to live their normal lives with the device and decide if it is tolerable for their lifestyles before implantation. On the other hand, InterStim does require surgery, and the same risks apply as with any surgery. Patients may experience pain and bleeding and have a more heightened risk of infection than they would without surgery. Additionally, Dr. Graham notes, “the introduction of the device into the body may cause some unintended side effects.” Patients have reported instances of bladder and bowel incontinence, shocking or jolting sensations in their sacrum, and pain at the insertion site. While these side effects are not typical, and can generally be corrected with reprogramming or medication, it is important for patients to understand the risks associated with the device.
If you are suffering from symptoms of an overactive bladder please speak with your urologist here at Blue Ridge Urological Associates to find out if InterStim is the right solution for you.