Foremost among bladder control therapies for overactive bladder is InterStim. InterStim is a small implanted device that acts in a similar manner to a pacemaker, but it serves to regulate the bladder to solve for OAB. Overactive bladder (OAB) is characterized by sudden and unplanned contraction of the bladder muscles resulting in an urgent need to urinate. It may also be difficult to hold the urine – a condition known as urinary urgency. This happens even when the bladder is far from being full. If you’ve had little success in treating your OAB symptoms, you may be researching new treatment methods. You may have even searched, “InterStim near me.” Call us today to learn more about treatment options for OAB including InterStim at 678-344-8900.

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What is Interstim Therapy?

Interstim therapy or sacral nerve stimulation (SNS) is a surgical procedure that involves the placement of a small device in the body. The small device can be considered to be a pacemaker for the bladder. The device sends electrical impulses to the sacral nerves. The sacral nerves control the organs that are part of the urinary system. The electrical pulses allow the brain and the bladder to communicate.

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Who Qualifies for InterStim?

Patients who suffer from the following conditions or symptoms can undergo InterStim therapy:

  • Overactive bladder – The bladder has mixed signals and initiates the sensation of passing urine even when the bladder is not full.
  • Urge incontinence – The strong sensation of passing urine results in the loss of urine.
  • Urgency/frequency – It is marked by several and sudden sensation to urinate. The urine passes in small amounts resulting in numerous visits to the bathroom.
  • Urinary retention – The bladder cannot be emptied.
  • Fecal incontinence – Lack of bowel control.

The following patients do not qualify for InterStim therapy:

  • Stress incontinence
  • Patients under the age of 16
  • Pregnant patients
  • Patients suffering from diabetes
  • Patients suffering from neurological disorders (eg. Multiple Sclerosis)


What are the Side Effects of InterStim?

The side effects of InterStim are few, but those common to InterStim include:

  • New pain
  • Pain at the implant site
  • Unwanted device interactions
  • Device complications or problems
  • Skin irritation and/or uncomfortable stimulation

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The Effectiveness of InterStim

The InterStim therapy is not suitable for everyone. Before the procedure is done, the doctor will conduct tests to determine the effectiveness of InterStim on the patient.

Basic InterStim Testing

Temporal leads are placed into the sacral nerve. A test is done to see if the lead can stimulate the sacral nerves. The stimulation is confirmed by the movement of the big toe. The lead will take a week before they are removed from the patient.

Advanced InterStim Testing

This test is generally performed on patients who have urinary retention. Instead of using temporary leads like those used in the basic test, only one long-term lead is used. It placed in the sacral nerve and left there for about two weeks. If the patient is given the green light to undergo InterStim therapy, the long-term lead is not removed.

However, a patient who is not cleared for InterStim therapy will have the long-term lead removed through a surgical procedure.

Placing the InterStim Device For Long-term Use

The InterStim implantation procedure is done in an operating room. The doctor will determine the anesthesia to be used (sedative or general anesthesia). The implant will be inserted into the body through the buttocks.

If a temporary lead was successfully used during the test:

  • The lead inserted during the test will have to be removed.
  • A long-term lead is inserted into the body.

If a long-term lead was successfully used during the test:

  • It will not be moved.
  • The external wire used during the test is removed.
  • The long-term lead is connected to a neurotransmitter.

Recovery after InterStim Surgery in Atlanta

After the surgery, the evaluation stage begins. At this stage, the doctor will determine whether the procedure was a success and how the patient is responding to it.

The following is recommended during the evaluation period:

  • Only engage in light work – The patient may work. However, the work should not be too physical.
  • Delay bathing – Patients are encouraged to stay away from bathing. Instead, they should take their first shower at least 48 hours after the surgery. The doctor should be consulted about this and will give more advice. A sponge bath may be a good way to go.
  • Avoid sports – The patient should initially avoid participating in sports.
  • Keep a journal – The patient has to actively fill out the bowel diary. This will help the doctor to determine if the procedure is working.
  • Avoid sexual intercourse – Patients should avoid having sex during the evaluation period. Sexual intercourse can potentially change the position of the lead.

As time passes and with a doctor’s care, the patient can slowly begin to lead a normal life. The patient may meet with the doctor at least once a month to see how the patient is coping with implants. The first three months are critical. The patient may have to visit the doctor more frequently for implant adjustments.

The neurotransmitter will continue to work 24/7. The batteries of the neurotransmitter will need to be changed after a couple of years. The patient will notice this as a change in electrical stimulations. The old symptoms are likely to come back again. Also, the patient programming device may send an alert that the batteries need to be changed.

Advanced Urology is actively monitoring the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The health and well-being of our patients, staff and their families is of utmost importance to us. We will continue to follow CDC guidelines to help prevent exposure and spread of the virus. We are staying open to serve our patients in-person and offering Telehealth appointments for those that prefer to access care from home.