Pacemaker for the bladder

Health Watch

Incontinence is a problem few people talk about even though it changes their lives dramatically. Find out how a little device is helping them regain control of their lives.

It’s a sweet treat today for Melissa Dermanouel. It’s so sweet because days like these were few and far between.

“I couldn’t go 20 minutes without having to go to the bathroom,” said Melissa Dermanouel.

Melissa suffered for 12 years with an overactive bladder.

“If it starts to go, there’s no stopping mechanism,” said Dermanouel.

For people like Melissa, their brains and their bladders don’t communicate correctly.

Melissa was the first person in the entire United States to receive the new Axonics Sacral Neuromodulator a remote-controlled pacemaker for the bladder.

Felicia Lane, MD, University of California Irvine said, “Basically we’re reprograming the nerve to the bladder.”

The Neurostimulator is surgically implanted in the lower back, near the 3rd Sacral nerve root. A small lead wire delivers electrical impulses to the nerves that regulate bladder control.

“Our bladder can store our urine or hold our urine longer and we’re not having these involuntary contractions of the bladder that are unwanted,” said Doctor Lane.

In previous devices, patients would need a new surgery to replace the stimulator every four years when the batteries died.

Now, the new stimulator lasts 15 years and can be charged just by wearing a charger over the area the device was implanted.

“There’s nothing better than to see a bathroom and walk by it and not have to go,” said Dermanouel.

Allowing Melissa to enjoy her days, worry-free.

Sacral neuromodulation is the only FDA approved therapy that can treat both urinary and fecal symptoms with a single solution.

Risks include infection after surgery, pain over the stimulator site, and if the device moves, it may have to be removed.

Right now, the stimulator is only being used for patients who have failed to respond to traditional incontinence treatments.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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