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For women whose overactive bladders have not been settled by standard therapies, a pacemaker for bladder function can alleviate urinary urgency and leakage problems, dramatically improving quality of life.
Available to patients at UW Hospital and Clinics' Bladder Clinic, the InterStim® device can help those who have not had success with therapies such as pelvic floor muscle exercises, changes in fluid intake or medications to help control bladder muscle hyperactivity.
Installing the Bladder Pacemaker
The surgery itself is done on an outpatient basis, and usually occurs in two stages. In the first stage, patients are given a mild sedative while surgeons use a needle to locate a particular nerve that travels from the base of the spine to the bladder. A tiny electrode is placed near the nerve, which is then attached to a pacemaker worn on a belt outside the patient's body. The patient wears the device for a period of about two weeks, sending mild electrical pulses to the nerve that helps control erratic bladder function.
If the pacing improves the patient's symptoms, the device is permanently installed in the upper portion of one of the patient's buttocks, where it comfortably resides for as long as it's needed. Installation of the device is completely reversible and can be discontinued at any time with no permanent damage to the nerves.