InterStim® Therapy for Bowel Control
As many as 18 million Americans struggle with the shame and social isolation of chronic bowel incontinence. Because patients often suffer in silence, that number could be even higher. The inability to control one’s bowels robs people–mainly women–of the activities they once took for granted, like shopping, eating out, traveling or playing with their grandchildren.
But there is new hope right here at Robinson Memorial Hospital. We are the only hospital in Portage and Summit counties to offer InterStim sacral nerve stimulation. This implantable device helps control the nerve signals to the rectal and anal sphincter muscles, much like a pacemaker controls the heart muscle. Originally designed for urinary incontinence, it is now FDA-approved for bowel control.
When all else fails
If you have already tried and failed to control your bowels with other treatments such as medication, physical therapy and dietary changes, InterStim Therapy might be for you. While InterStim is not a cure for incontinence, it may reduce your symptoms enough for you to resume your old life and activities.
In fact, the manufacturer cites studies that showed 47 percent of patients with severe bowel incontinence were completely continent one year after surgery and 80 percent of patients showed significant improvements of their symptoms. More than 100,000 people worldwide have received the treatment.
A testable, reversible procedure
The InterStim device is a stopwatch-size neurostimulator that is implanted under the skin in the lower back. A thin wire lead runs from the neurostimulator to the sacral nerves that control bowel function.
Patients first undergo a week-long trial to see if the treatment will work for them. During a simple outpatient procedure, the surgeon places the lead and attaches it to an external neurostimulator worn on the waistband. The patient then keeps a special diary to track their symptoms. At the end of the week, the surgeon reviews their diary and determines if the patient is a good candidate for the implanted device.
The implant is placed during a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure. Patients go home the same day, normally in very little pain. They can control their device’s intensity using a remote controlled programmer, turning it up, down or off depending on their symptoms. Follow-up visits are scheduled every six to twelve months to monitor the InterStim’s effectiveness. The treatment is also completely reversible.
Take the first step
Dr. Jen-Nan Yuh and Dr. Amy Swegan are certified in this therapy and are accepting new InterStim patients. Their office is conveniently located in the Parkway Medical Center across from the hospital. To schedule an appointment, call (330) 296-8239.