Stimulator Incontinence Therapy

With the right treatment, your incontinence troubles can disappear

Pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and even the female anatomy can lead to bladder control problems, making half of all women susceptible to developing incontinence at some point in their lives. Thankfully, incontinence is not a normal sign of aging, nor is it a problem you have to tolerate. 

Introducing stimulator incontinence therapy, a new outpatient surgical procedure for women with bladder problems. Affinity Medical Group OB/GYN physicians Christopher Wagener, MD, and Stacey Sensor, DO, perform this therapy at St. Elizabeth Hospital and Mercy Medical Center.  “Stimulator therapy is effective in treating overactive bladder including leakage and symptoms of urgency and frequency,” says Dr. Wagener. 

How it works

Overactive bladder occurs when abnormal nerve signals cause the bladder to contract. Medications work by relaxing the bladder muscle.  Stimulator therapy works by interrupting the abnormal nerve signals.  A small device is implanted under the skin near the tailbone.  It sends mild electrical pulses to the nerve that controls urinary function, reducing or eliminating bladder control symptoms.

When medication doesn’t help

Stimulator therapy is an option for women whose condition has not improved with medication.  “Patients being considered for this treatment must have tried at least two other treatments that either did not help or produced side effects that could not be tolerated,” Dr. Wagener explains.  Women are encouraged to discuss their treatment options with their doctor.

Two outpatient procedures

Stimulator therapy is performed in two stages.  “The first stage is a trial to see if the device works for you,” says Dr. Wagener.  During this stage, a temporary device, called a lead, is placed along a nerve near the lower back.  A special generator worn on a belt helps record your symptoms for several days following the procedure. 

Approximately 80 percent of patients will experience significant or complete resolution of their symptoms.  If the trial procedure is successful and the patient is happy with the results, the temporary device is replaced with a permanent neurostimulator (similar to a pacemaker) approximately two weeks later. 

Both procedures occur on an outpatient basis.  According to Dr. Wagener, patients are given a sedative and local anesthesia to minimize any discomfort.

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