Implant Allowing Peaceful Slumber

The InterStim™ system allows Shannon to finally have freedom from her bladder.

Shannon Atkins has never felt more rested, and it’s thanks to an implant that helps her control her bladder.

“Before getting this device, I was waking up to go to the bathroom all night long. I couldn’t get any sleep at all,” says Shannon.

Shannon received Medtronic Bladder Control Therapy delivered by the InterStim™ system. It is a small, implantable device that targets the sacral nerves that control your bladder or bowel. It is an option for patients who have tried other treatments and behavioral therapies first, but they have not worked.

Shannon began working with her primary care doctor to control her bladder concerns a few years ago.

“There was one night I was up 12 times in 3 hours to use the bathroom. It was miserable,” says Shannon.

She tried medication but was unhappy with the results and side effects. She then went to Michael Cupp, MD at Urology Associates of Central Missouri.

Dr. Cupp and Shannon discussed her options, and she first tried different oral medications and then injections. Neither provided her the relief she was looking for. Then Dr. Cupp told Shannon about the InterStim™ system.

“With the InterStim™ system, our focus is on empowering patients to make informed decisions about their health. We provide the opportunity to experience InterStim therapy during a trial period before committing to surgical implantation of the device. Together, we assess the results and collaboratively determine the next steps. It’s not merely about symptom management; it’s about seizing control of your well-being, one step at a time,” says Dr. Cupp.

InterStim™ therapy has been around more than 27 years. It is minimally invasive and used by more than 375,000 patients worldwide. It can be used to treat both urinary and fecal incontinence and urinary retention. The therapy is reported to significantly improve quality of life, and it still allows patients to get full-body MRI scans if they so need.

The therapy has patients first go through a trial period before getting the device to see how it works for them. At a doctor’s office or outpatient center, a thin wire is inserted in the upper part of the buttock. It then delivers electrical messages to the sacral nerves which modify abnormal reflexes to the sacral and pelvic nerves that supply the bladder and pelvic floor. The lead attaches to a small external device that can be worn discreetly under clothes. The patient is given a programmer that resembles a smartphone. Symptoms are tracked and if improvement is shown, the patient is scheduled for surgery to receive the permanent device.

“I showed a lot of improvement, and we scheduled my procedure at Boone Hospital Center,” says Shannon.

For the permanent procedure, a pacemaker device is placed in the buttocks and so no external device has to be connected to the wires providing the electrical stimulation. Patients can use their Smart Programmer smartphone-like device to manage and adjust their therapy as needed.

“The procedure went great for me and immediately made such a difference. Now I’m not having to stop constantly and go to the bathroom at night, and I am finally able to sleep,” says Shannon.

Shannon is enjoying her new energy by going to the gym, spending time with friends, and going fishing.

“It’s a whole new world with this device. I tell everyone about it who says they have that kind of trouble,” says Shannon.

By Madison Loethen