InterStim Therapy works for the bladder much the same way that a pacemaker works for the heart. One end of a lead (or thin wire) is implanted near your sacral nerves. These nerves are located near the tailbone and help control your bladder function. The other end of the lead is connected to a small neurostimulator. The neurostimulator generates mild electrical pulses that are carried to the sacral nerve by the lead. This helps the brain and the nerves to communicate so the bladder and related muscles can function properly.
During an initial evaluation period, the neurostimulator is worn externally on the waistband, like a pager. If the evaluation proves that InterStim Therapy is effective, the neurostimulator may be surgically placed inside the body in the upper buttock area.
InterStim Therapy may offer several benefits – fewer embarrassing leaks and no more waking many times during the night to urinate. In a long-term clinical study by Medtronic, the manufacturer of the device, 59 percent of patients with urge incontinence reduced their leaks by half.
An evaluation process enables patients to determine if InterStim Therapy will work for them before making a long-term commitment. InterStim Therapy is also reversible. Treatment can be discontinued at any time by simply turning off or removing the device.
The InterStim Therapy system has risks similar to any surgical procedure, including swelling, bruising, bleeding, and infection. Some patients experience pain or irritation, changes in urinary or bowel function, or uncomfortable stimulation.
Although InterStim Therapy has helped more than 100,000 people since it received approval by the FDA in 1997, it is not right for every patient, including patients with urinary blockage. Only your health care provider can determine if the treatment is right for you.