Interstim is a brand name of a device used for sacral neuromodulation. Sacral neuromodulation is a technique performed where a wire is placed close to the nerves that control bladder function. The wire then emits a signal that is delivered by the device to help calm down the bladder. This wire is placed through a small incision in the back, and passes through a natural opening in the hip bone to get close to the targeted nerves.
What does this treatment involve?
This is a two-stage procedure. Both stages are performed in a surgery center and you may go home the same day. In the first stage, the wire is placed in and exits from a small incision in the back. It is connected to a small controller that you can attach to your belt. This controller is turned on, which begins to emit signals to the bladder nerves. You then return home, and wait for 1-2 weeks to see how well the device calms down the bladder. If it is helping, then you will return for the second stage where the temporary controller is replaced by a permanent one that is placed beneath the skin on your back (just above your hip). If it is not helping, then the wire is completely removed.
What are the success rates?
One of the best studies available examined patients 18 months after their surgery. All of these patients had failed conservative treatments before Interstim. This study found that 77 percent of patients were benefiting from the sacral neuromodulation.
What are the possible complications?
Your doctor will review and discuss the potential complications with you. Placing the device is a minimally invasive procedure. A rare number of patients may have bleeding or discomfort at the incision site. In the rare occasion that an infection develops, then the device will be removed.
What does this all mean?
Sacral neuromodulation is a significant treatment advancement for urge incontinence. Until recently, if medications did not work for patients, there were few remaining options. Sacral neuromodulation allows many patients with more severe symptoms to lead a normal life.