InterStim’s Poster Girl

‘Pacemaker for the bladder’ enables retiree to enjoy active lifestyle

"Now I can do whatever I want to do. InterStim has given me my life back."
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You’ve probably seen the commercial. Women, preparing to embark on a shopping trip to the mall, roll out a map and, with military precision, identify and circle in red women’s restrooms.

Kathy Ebersole can painfully relate to that commercial. The vivacious, gracious Kelso resident battled bladder issues for years. Kathy had urge incontinence. “When the urge hit, I needed to be in the bathroom right then.”

She spent years trying to control the problem with medications and special undergarments. “I knew I had a problem, but what I had to admit is that it was literally taking over my life, ruling my life,” Kathy says. “I didn’t want to go to the grocery store or dine out. I had no social life.” Driving to Orlando with her husband Ralph to visit Ralph’s daughter was miserable. “I can’t tell you how many pit stops we made along the way.”

Gaining Control

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During a visit to Urologist John Hall, DO,FACS, of Cape Girardeau Urology Associates, Kathy learned about InterStim® Therapy. Dr. Hall suggested Kathy see his partner, Vincenzo Galati, DO, FACS, who specializes in this treatment option.

“Dr. Galati explained the procedure and its potential benefits,” Kathy adds. “I knew it was something I wanted – and needed – to try.”

Overactive bladder symptoms can be treated by targeting both the muscle and the nerve components of the bladder. Medications treat the muscle component of the bladder. However, in some patients medications are not enough to gain control of the symptoms. This is where InterStim Therapy can be helpful as it can target the nerve component of the bladder symptoms.

“InterStim Therapy is like a pacemaker for the bladder,” explains Dr. Galati. “It targets the communication problem between the brain and the bladder so patients don’t experience the frequent urge to urinate.”

Dr. Galati says patients appreciate testing the effects of nerve stimulation before the device is even implanted.

Quality of Life

After undergoing a test session – without the need for any incisions – Kathy noted a significant improvement in her symptoms and subsequently had the minimallyinvasive procedure to implant the InterStim device, which is powered by a small battery.

The difference for Kathy has been “amazing,” she says. “I am off meds. I can do whatever I want to do. InterStim has given me my life back.” The device, she says, is “not disturbing at all.”

Kathy worked for the state of Missouri for 22 years. She is retired and now truly “loving every minute of it,” she says. She’s back to her active lifestyle, which includes traveling with Ralph to see family scattered across the country. Kathy adds she is more than willing to share her experience with others considering InterStim Therapy. “I told Dr. Galati I would love to be his poster girl for this because of the difference it has made in my life.”

interstimInterStim Therapy – What to expect, step by step

TESTING THE EFFECTIVENESS

  • Minimally-invasive procedure that requires no incision
  • Only local anesthesia is needed
  • Two electrodes are placed in the lower back
  • Small current stimulates the nerves of the bladder
  • Patient gives immediate feedback to ensure optimal placement of the electrodes

TRACKING THE RESULTS

  • Patient goes home with an external device that provides nerve stimulation
  • Patient keeps a diary of results

FOLLOWING UP

  • Patient sees doctor about two weeks later
FINALIZING THE PROCESS 
  • If patient experiences a greater than 50 percent improvement in symptoms, the permanent electrodes and device can be surgically implanted
  • No external device is needed

Stress Incontinence

Most adults can hold more than two cups of urine in their bladder. Stress incontinence happens when physical movement or activity like coughing, sneezing, running or heavy lifting puts pressure – or stress – on your bladder. Stress incontinence is much more common in women than men.

Urge Incontinence

Stress incontinence differs from urge incontinence. Urge incontinence is the loss of urine caused by the bladder muscle contracting without you wanting it to. Usually it is associated with a sense of urgency.