The Urodynamics unit at the Hamad Medical Corporation’s Urology Department six months ago introduced the Intersim advanced sacral neuro-modulation Implant featured a few weeks ago.
The surgical device acts like bladder pacemaker to treat those suffering from urinary incontinence . “We have introduced the new treatment to help our patients who are suffering from bladder or urinary incontinence and it has been found to improve the quality of life in men and women who primarily suffer with severe bladder problems,” urology consultant Dr Adralan Ghafouri said. So far, six patients, men and women aged 23 to above 70 years have received the implant from the unit.
“Our first patient is female aged 23 years, who is diabetic, also had weak bladder muscles and she had difficulty emptying her bladder. She could only pass stools three-four times a month due to chronic constipation,” he recalled.He mentioned that after the neuro-stimulator implant was inserted in the patient, she began to pass stools spontaneously and can now empty her bladder normally. He explained that the device, which has a lifespan of between five-eight years, is implanted through a procedure known as the sacral nerve stimulation – a minimally invasive procedure to treat urge incontinence, overactive bladder, urinary retention or interstitial cystitis.
Overactive bladder, which is one of the leading causes of urinary incontinence, is a condition recognised by symptoms such as urinary urgency, frequent urination, waking up at least twice a night to urinate or urge incontinence (leakage of urine).
“The InterStim implant is a tiny device, which is surgically implanted near the tailbone through a small incision near the tailbone. This pacemaker sends mild electrical impulses to stimulate the sacral nerves, which controls bladder function,” he explained.
Similar to a cardiac pacemaker, the implant is programmed to stimulate the bladder nerves located in the lower back (sacrum), to relax or tense as urine fills the bladder or as elimination of urine is required, Dr Gahfouri said. He explained that during the procedure, the surgeon will insert an electrical pulse generator, like a pacemaker, under the skin in the upper, outer quadrant of the buttock and the generator is attached to a thin lead wire with a small electrode tip, which is anchored near the sacral nerve. ”The device is found to work flawlessly in about 50% of the patients who are tested and determined to be good candidates for the device with the testing phase taking about a week.The patient simply wear an external device on the belt to see if his bladder will respond to stimulation,” he explained.