Tiny Implant Cures Patient’s Incontinence
The symptoms of her overactive bladder came out of nowhere, 37-year-old Shonae Williams said.
In the weeks before she was referred to Ayman Mahdy, M.D., a urology specialist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Williams had no choice but to buy adult diapers.
“I was at the extreme, and I needed help,” she said.
Williams, of Little Rock, received a comprehensive evaluation from Mahdy, who has expertise in voiding dysfunction, urinary incontinence, female urology, urodynamics and urologic reconstruction.
The evaluation included tests to rule out bladder infection and other curable problems. Mahdy conducted a urodynamic study – a performance assessment of the bladder and urethral function. This revealed overactivity of the bladder muscle, which was causing Williams to urinate involuntarily. The study also revealed a hypersensitive bladder, and a low cystometric bladder capacity, meaning she had the urge to urinate when only a small amount of urine was in her bladder.
Mahdy determined that there was no defined cause for Williams’ bladder overactivity. He recommended that she try an implant that uses electrical impulses to calm the sacral nerve, which influences the behavior of the bladder.
Before implanting the InterStim® device under Williams’ skin at her lower back, Mahdy first had to test with a device that she would wear externally. The test device was linked to the sacral nerve with a tiny wire, and Williams tried it for five days. She kept a record of her experience and reported to Mahdy that she had 100 percent improvement of her urine leakage, 90 percent improvement of frequency symptoms and 70 percent improvement of urgency symptoms.
Mahdy and Williams were pleased with the results, so Williams chose to have the implant surgery. She was under conscious sedation for the 1 ½ hour procedure, and she went home the same day.
Made by Medtronic, the InterStim® Therapy implant is the only FDA-approved device of its kind. The implant allows patients to resume daily activities without having to carry or see the device. A remote control allows Williams to turn it on and off and to change the stimulation amplitude up and down. Otherwise the device works on/off automatically.
More than a month after the implant, Williams said she is essentially cured, thanks to the device.
“It helped me instantly,” she said. “I’m just glad that I found UAMS and Dr. Mahdy.”