What is a Bladder Pacemaker (InterStim® Implant)
Referred to as sacral neuromodulation; sacral nerve stimulation therapy; and the InterStim® implant, a bladder pacemaker is a device that is surgically implanted to help those who suffer from the pain and degraded quality of life caused from bladder (urinary) incontinence. Similar to a cardiac pacemaker, the implant is programed to stimulate the bladder nerves located in the lower back (sacrum), to relax or tense as urine fills the bladder or as elimination of urine is required. These bladder pacemakers have been found to improve the quality of life in men and women who primarily suffer with severe bladder problems.
25 million people suffer from urinary incontinnece
The Involuntary Loss Of Urine Control
What Are The 3 Types Of Incontinence
There are three types of incontinence that attack the bladder; urge incontinence, stress incontinence, and overflow incontinence. All of which can reduce the comfort found within daily life. Each type of bladder control loss is associated with a particular causal feature. Let's take a look at each to determine which may be effecting you or someone you care about.
Symptoms of Urinary Bladder Incontinence
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1. Urge Urinary Incontinence
This is mostly due to an overactive bladder. This is most common in those who have an urge to urinate but, simply can't make it to the restroom in time. This type of incontinence can also be triggered by cold or running water which creates a sudden urge or accident. In some situations, no real symptom is apparent besides the act of moving around, adjusting in one's seat, or simply standing up after laying or sitting down. Urge incontinence (overactive bladder) is commonly developed among those who have multiple sclerosis, a spinal injury, and even after a stroke occurs.
2. Stress Urinary Incontinence
This is the most common type of bladder leakage problem. Urine is leaked out when walking, after activities, and especially during sneezing. This develops because of weakened muscles at the bottom of the bladder (those muscles that support the weight of the bladder and its functions), which can cause the sphincter pelvic muscles to be lacking in the required strength to support proper bladder function. Other causes are child birth, trauma from surgery, reduction of estrogen due to the onset of menopause, and most frequently stress urinary incontinence can be caused by radical prostate surgery.
Bladder Pacemaker Information
The device can in some cases, replace major surgery that is needed for bladder augmentation, or when bladder medications are just not getting the job done.
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) holds the patent on this technology.
the InterStim® implant is the trade name for the bladder pacemaker, which is manufactured in Minneapolis by Medtronics Inc.
3. Overflow Urinary Incontinence
We may all think we have encountered this condition, because we have just waited too long and the bladder can no longer hold the weight of the urine building up, thus an accident takes place. Overflow incontinence is similar, yet different at the same time. In severe cases, it happens when a full bladder is unable to evacuate due to damage or other reasons, but leaking still occurs. This is accompanied by tiny amounts of frequent urination or an actual unmanageable dribble of urine. Pretty rare in females, but is common in men who have encountered surgery or prostate problems.
How Does the Bladder Pacemaker Work
The Brain and The Bladder Communication Deviation
Should, for some reason, the brain and the nerves connecting and communicating with the function of the bladder stop working, an implant (bladder pacemaker) may be something to consider. The device is found to work flawlessly in about 50% of the patients who are tested and determined to be good candidates for the device (the testing phase takes about a week, and is simply a matter of wearing an external device on the belt to see if the patient's bladder will respond to stimulation). For most of the patients that qualify, the results are as different as night and day. This little device measures around 2" in diameter and is about a ¼" thick, with top quality stainless steel housing the important electronic parts. Such a small creation can restore the bladder to a normal functioning state, even when the brain can no longer communicate with the bladder along the nerve path.
About The Bladder Pacemaker Surgery
Through surgical implantation, a doctor will place the bladder pacemaker into the lower abdomen under the skin. Four little wires will then connect the nerves in the lower back (sacrum)—which are the pathway from the brain to bladder—to the device. After external programming by the doctor is completed, these nerves will be stimulated to either relax or tense according to this program, offering restored bladder control to the patient. The surgery rarely last longer than two hours, and usually only takes about half of an hour. The patient has some limited control of the device, as they can either turn it "up" or "down" for a more personalized outcome.
Resources For Bladder Control (Urinary Incontinenece)
- Medline Plus - A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Harvard Health Publications - Harvard Medical School, bladder control training for urinary incontinence.
- Cleveland Clinic - Coping with Urinary Incontinence.
- Mayo Clinic - Bladder control problems; Medications for controlling urinary incontinence.
UCSF Bladder Pacemaker Study
Dr. Emil Tanagho, Professor of Urology at UCSF began his research back in the 1970s. The goal was to study bladder conditions in people who were paralyzed. He soon discovered that the same type of stimulation that worked on paralyzed patients, would also work on those who suffered from other types of bladder control as well.
In 1997, the study gained approval as a bladder pacemaker for the following purposes:
- Urge incontinence
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson's Disease
- Interstitial Cystitis
- Pelvic pain due to overactive pelvic muscles
Urinary Incontinence in Women (VIDEO)
Conclusion of Bladder Pacemaker
With this helpful device, it would seem that bladder control conditions for about 50% of those who experience the problem can find a significant relief through having the InterStim® implanted. Being able to avoid a total bladder augmentation may extend the length of life for someone you love, but can surely improved the quality of life for qualifying patients who suffer the emotional and physical pains of bladder incontinence.
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