Therapy ‘test drive’ could lead to relief from common bladder and bowel control problems

(BPT) – More than 37 million adults in the United States suffer from overactive bladder, and nearly 18 million have bowel incontinence. Many of these people face a common dilemma: after months and sometimes years of disappointment with conservative treatments like oral medications, should they commit to more advanced, long-term treatments that might work for them, but also include a medical procedure?

For many of these people, being able to “test drive” a long-term treatment option can help them feel more comfortable with their decision. One established treatment option for overactive bladder and bowel incontinence, called sacral neuromodulation, allows just that.

Sacral neuromodulation, which more than 150,000 people worldwide have received to date, is delivered by an implanted system called InterStim. The system provides mild electrical stimulation to the sacral nerves, which are located near the tailbone and help control bladder and bowel function. The therapy, manufactured by Medtronic, is thought to normalize communication between the bladder or bowel and the brain. The implantable components of the InterStim System consist of a pacemaker-like device, called a neurostimulator, and a thin wire called a lead. These are implanted under the skin during a minimally invasive procedure following a successful “test drive,” or trial stimulation period, which typically lasts 14 days or less.

What’s more, while trial stimulation has been available previously, Medtronic has recently launched a new trial stimulation system, called Verify, which offers a more discreet and unobtrusive experience to patients during the evaluation period.

The new Verify System uses two advanced components — a small external neurostimulator weighing less than two ounces, which is concealed securely in a soft belt worn at the waist under clothing, and a mobile phone-sized wireless controller with a touch-screen for easy stimulation adjustments during the trial period. Following successful trial stimulation with Verify, the external device is disconnected, and the lead that was used during the trial stimulation period is connected to the implantable neurostimulator.  

In addition to being designed to improve the patient experience, Verify also provides physicians with important data and new programming flexibility.

“Mild stimulation of the sacral nerves can have a significant impact on patients suffering from overactive bladder, urinary retention or bowel control issues,” says Dr. Ken Peters, M.D., Chief of Urology at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, who was the first in the U.S. to use the new Verify System. “This new trial system allows patients to experience the therapy before having a neurostimulator implanted and provides me with vital information so I can determine if the long-term therapy is right for my patients.”

Results of the therapy vary, and not every response is the same. People should consult their physicians to decide whether InterStim therapy is appropriate. In addition to risks related to a medical procedure, complications from this therapy can include pain, infection, sensation of electrical shock, device problems, undesirable change in voiding function, and lead migration, among others. Additional safety information can be found at

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