Health Break | Published September 4, 2007 | Written by Jeffrey Sekula, MD

Embarassing Problem, Effective Solution

It is estimated that over 33 million Americans suffer from urinary voiding dysfunction, a term used to describe a disturbance in normal bladder emptying. Many of those affected will note a frequent and urgent need to urinate, and some may even be unable to make it to the restroom, which results in urinary incontinence. Another type of voiding dysfunction consists of ones inability to completely empty the bladder, a condition known as urinary retention. Those with urinary retention may need to drain their bladder with a catheter, or may note very slow and weak urinary flow.

Significant voiding dysfunction has a major effect on quality of life. People who are affected will often avoid social situations to prevent an embarrassing accident. Sleep may be interrupted and suboptimal due to constant trips to the bathroom. Those who suffer from this condition consistently score low on sense of well-being and self-esteem questionnaires. Due to the serious negative quality of life issues involved, physicians have started to focus on this previously unmentionable problem.

The standard treatment for urgency, frequency and urge incontinence consists of medication. However, medication is ineffective in some, while in other cases, the patient may not tolerate the side effects of the medication. Further, those with non-obstructive urinary retention only had catheters to help empty their bladder. To help these patients who were in the past told that nothing more could be done to help them, Interstim Therapy is being used.

In Interstim Therapy, the urologist places a small, thin wire near the nerves that control the bladder, and deliver a mild electrical signal to those nerves. In effect, this signal can turn off the bladder overactivity, which is so troublesome. A patient with retention may benefit by an improved bladder contraction, and thereby empty more effectively.

Interstim Therapy is an FDA approved device performed as a minor outpatient procedure and is completely reversible and covered by Medicare and most insurance carriers.

If you would like to learn more about this procedure, register for a free seminar presented by Drs. Sekula and Oselinsky on Friday, September 7 at 11 am or Tuesday September 11 at 6:30 pm in the Galen and Nancy Dreibelbis Auditorium at Mount Nittany Medical Center, 1800 East Park Avenue in State College. To register, call 877.590.7835. Light refreshments will be provided.

Jeffrey Sekula, MD is a urologist with State College Urologic Associates and on the medical staff at Mount Nittany Medical Center.