InterStim® Therapy is a proven neuromodulation therapy that targets communication problems between the brain and the nerves that control the bladder to improve bladder function.
The InterStim system uses an external device during a trial assessment period and an internal device for long-term therapy. You and your doctor may decide to try InterStim Therapy by going through a trial assessment period. Based on the outcome of the trial assessment, you and your doctor will determine which next step is right for you.
How the InterStim System Works
Treatment with the InterStim system involves three steps: evaluation, a minimally invasive surgical implant and ongoing post-implant follow-up appointments.
Evaluation: The test stimulation process begins with an in-office or outpatient procedure to place a lead (thin wire) near the tailbone, which is taped to the skin and connected to a small external device that sends mild electrical pulses to the sacral nerves using an external stimulator. The patient typically wears the external stimulator for several days to determine whether or not InterStim Therapy is likely to help.
Outpatient Surgical Implant: Following a successful trial, the InterStim system’s wire lead and a neurostimulator (a pacemaker-like device) are implanted under the skin during a minimally invasive outpatient procedure. The neurostimulator is about the size of a stopwatch and is placed under the skin in the upper buttock near the sacral nerves, which help control bladder function. The InterStim system then delivers mild electrical pulses to stimulate the sacral nerves and help manage bladder and bowel incontinence symptoms.
Post-Implant: Following the implant procedure, the patient can control the neurostimulation intensity within physician-set parameters using an external patient programmer that works like a remote control to turn the stimulation up and down or on and off. Follow-up examinations usually occur every six to 12 months.
InterStim System Benefits
Significant (50 percent or greater) reduction in overactive bladder symptoms. Extensive research has confirmed the long-term efficacy of InterStim therapy, and a recent clinical study demonstrated that sacral neuromodulation with the InterStim system works better1 and improves quality of life2 more than oral medication alone (in less severe patients than have been studied previously in a clinical trial).
Total or significantly improved bowel control. Clinical research has shown that sacral nerve stimulation reduces bowel incontinence.3 41 percent of patients achieved complete bowel continence.4
Significantly improved quality of life, and the ability to participate in normal activities of daily life.
Unlike other surgical treatment options, physicians and patients can assess the effectiveness of the therapy through the initial evaluation period, enabling a patient to experience how the therapy feels and what symptoms are relieved prior to going forward with the procedure.
Even after implantation, the treatment is reversible and can be discontinued at any time by either turning the device off or surgically removing it.
Most private insurance companies and Medicare cover the InterStim system.
1 Results of a prospective, randomized, multicenter study evaluating the safety and efficacy of InterStim Therapy at 6-month follow-up in subjects with symptoms of overactive bladder. Steven Siegel, Jason Bennett, Jeffrey Mangel, Craig Comiter, Samuel Zylstra, Erin Bird, Tomas L. Griebling, Tony Pinson, Daniel Culkin, and Suzette Sutherland. AUGS 33rd Annual Scientific Meeting. Chicago, IL. October 4, 2012.
2 Evaluation of quality of life improvements at six months in subjects with overactive bladder randomized to InterStim Therapy implant vs. standard medical therapy. Jeffrey Mangel, Jason Bennett, Craig Comiter, Samuel Zylstra, Erin Bird, Tomas L. Griebling, Tony Pinson, Daniel Culkin, Suzette Sutherland, Steven Siegel. AUGS 33rd Annual Scientific Meeting. Chicago, IL. October 4, 2012.
3 Wexner, Steven D., et al: Sacral Nerve Stimulation for Fecal Incontinence: Results of a 120-Patient Prospective Multicenter Study. Annals of Surgery. 2010 March; 251(3):441-449.
4 InterStim Therapy Clinical Summary, 2011.