Treatment to help bladder incontinence now accessible to more people

Published: August 15, 2022 3:18 PM EDT
Updated: August 15, 2022 5:15 PM EDT

A successful treatment for bladder incontinence has a new twist that makes it accessible to more people.

Bladder incontinence is a problem that impacts about 37 million people.

One in six Americans struggles with bladder incontinence which is the involuntary loss of urine.

Dr. Barckley Storey, a Urologist at Physicians Regional Medical Group said, “Urge incontinence, which is what most of what we’re talking about today, it’s this sudden sensation like you have to go to the bathroom and you can’t quite make it.”

Storey finds medications work for some of his patients but not all.

That led to the creation of this tiny device. It’s called InterStim and it uses a small electrical charge to keep the bladder in check.

“The easiest way to explain it is that the device sends a little signal to the nerves that control your bladder,” Storey said.

Implanted under the skin in the hip the InterStim sends a constant charge through a hair-thin lead that connects to the tibial nerve. It interrupts the abnormal signal that causes the bladder to release urine. Stimulators are not new but earlier versions required doctors to go back in and change the battery about every five years. The latest version lasts about 20 years.

“So in most of my patients, they’ll never need to have the battery changed in their lifetime,” Storey said.

Making it a stimulating proposition as well as a stimulating solution to an overactive bladder.

The newer InterStim device is also smaller and compatible with most MRI machines.

While it is implanted in the body, it doesn’t prevent someone from having another implanted device like a pacemaker.