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Medtronic InterStim
Medtronic InterStim

What Is Medtronic InterStim Therapy?

Medtronic InterStim therapy is an FDA-approved, minimally invasive treatment for OAB that uses sacral neuromodulation (SNM) to regulate the nerve impulses controlling the bladder and the muscles related to urinary function. By gently stimulating the sacral nerves, InterStim can help restore normal bladder function and improve symptoms of OAB.

What Is Overactive Bladder (OAB)?

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a condition characterized by a frequent and sudden urge to urinate, which may be difficult to control. This can lead to involuntary leakage of urine, known as urinary incontinence. OAB can severely impact one's quality of life, causing embarrassment, social isolation, and disruptions in daily activities.

If you’ve been diagnosed with OAB, there are several treatment options available, including physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and medications. However, those treatments may not be effective for everyone, and medications can cause unwanted side effects. In these cases, advanced options like Medtronic InterStim therapy may be the best option for you.

What Are Sacral Nerves?

Sacral nerves are a group of nerves that begin in the lumbar region of the spinal cord, located in the lower back. These nerves play a crucial role in transmitting signals between the spinal cord and various organs and muscles in the pelvis, including the bladder and bowel.

The sacral nerves, specifically S2-S4, are responsible for controlling bladder function by coordinating signals from the bladder and the brain. These nerves regulate the contraction and relaxation of the detrusor muscle (the muscle surrounding the bladder) and the external urethral sphincter, which are essential for normal urination. When the bladder is full, the sacral nerves send a signal to the brain, creating the urge to urinate. In response, the brain sends a signal back to the bladder through the sacral nerves, initiating the process of urination.

If you suffer from OAB, your nerve signals are no longer coordinating properly, leading to symptoms like a strong urge to urinate or incontinence.

How Does InterStim Therapy Work?

The InterStim system is made up of an implantable neurostimulator (similar to a pacemaker) and a lead with electrodes that deliver electrical stimulation to the sacral nerves. The neurostimulator is implanted under the skin in the upper buttock, and the lead is placed near the sacral nerves through a small incision in the lower back. The neurostimulator sends mild electrical pulses to the sacral nerves, helping to regulate bladder function and alleviate OAB symptoms.

Benefits of InterStim

InterStim may benefit people with OAB who haven’t responded to other treatments. Here are some of the benefits of InterStim:

  • Effective: InterStim has been clinically proven to reduce OAB symptoms, with many patients experiencing significant improvements in their quality of life.
  • Customizable: The stimulation levels can be adjusted to suit each patient's needs, ensuring optimal results.
  • Reversible: If the therapy is no longer desired or necessary, the InterStim system can be removed or turned off without causing permanent damage to the nerves.
  • Minimally invasive: The implantation procedure is minimally invasive, reducing the risk of complications and ensuring a faster recovery time.

The Evaluation Process

Before undergoing InterStim therapy, patients will undergo an evaluation process to determine if they are suitable candidates. This process includes:

  1. Medical history review and physical examination
  2. Discussion of previous treatment options tried and their outcomes
  3. Urodynamic testing to assess bladder function
  4. A temporary trial stimulation, also known as a "test drive," to determine if the patient responds positively to sacral neuromodulation

Risks and Side Effects

As with any medical procedure, there are potential risks and side effects associated with InterStim therapy. These may include:

  • Pain or discomfort at the implant site
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Lead migration or fracture
  • Changes in bowel or sexual function

It is essential to discuss these risks with your urologist before deciding on InterStim therapy.

Is InterStim Right for You?

InterStim therapy may be a good treatment option for patients with OAB who have not found relief through conservative treatment methods like medications and lifestyle changes. By targeting the root cause of OAB, sacral neuromodulation can significantly improve bladder control and overall quality of life. 

If you have been diagnosed with OAB and haven’t found relief in your current treatments, it’s time to discuss InterStim therapy with your urologist to determine if it's the right treatment option for you.

Don’t continue living with unwanted OAB symptoms—schedule an appointment today!

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