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Thread: is it true?

  1. #1

    is it true?

    Just as a cardiac pacemaker helps maintain a steady heartbeat, a new bladder pacemaker helps men and women with debilitating bladder problems regain control of this vital function, according to UCSF Stanford Health Care physicians, who pioneered the technology.

    The implantable bladder pacemaker delivers a painless electrical stimulus to the nerve fibers that regulate the muscle of the bladder. This enables patients to control urine storage and release, said Dr. Emil Tanagho, a UCSF professor of urology whose early work with paraplegics and quadriplegics led to the development of the device.

    He and Dr. Rodney Anderson, a Stanford professor of urology, are among the three physicians in California -- and the only two in Northern California -- who are currently implanting the device. The Food and Drug Administration approved the device in September 1997.

    Tanagho said the new pacemaker may benefit patients suffering from urge incontinence, the inability to control the strong, sudden urge to urinate. It could also help people with severe bladder problems associated with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, interstitial cystitis or pelvic pain produced by overactive pelvic muscles, he said.

    People who lack bladder control can be virtually incapacitated by their condition, making multiple daily trips to the restroom and suffering the embarrassment and discomfort of frequent bladder leakage, he said.

    The bladder pacemaker "is a major breakthrough in the management of many patients with severe voiding problems that can interfere with their well-being," Tanagho said. "It can restore their freedom and give them back normal function.

    "For these patients it's a major change in lifestyle as well as productivity," he added. "It's a quality-of-life issue, and the difference is day and night."


    Implanted under skin

    The pacemaker, about two inches in diameter and one-fourth inch thick, is encased in a stainless steel frame and is surgically implanted under the skin in the lower abdomen. It carries a lead wire, containing four platinum electrodes, that is threaded to a site within the sacral canal, near the sacral nerves at the base of the spine. These are the nerves that regulate bladder function.

    Once installed, the device is externally programmed by the physician to send electrical impulses to the nerves. This signals the bladder and pelvic muscles to contract or relax as urine is stored or eliminated. Patients can also regulate the device, within certain set limits, by turning it up or down.

    In clinical trials in the United States, Canada and Europe, the device reduced the number of leaking episodes among 74 percent of the 458 patients within six months after implantation. Almost half of the patients remained completely dry. The most common problems associated with the device were discomfort at the pacemaker site caused by the presence of the device, the movement of the lead wire, infection and skin irritation, the studies found. But all of these were mild and infrequent, the studies found.

    When the stimulation is on, patients usually report feeling a kind of tugging sensation and may experience a vibration or an electric tingling, but over time they may forget the device is in place, Anderson said.


    Few treatment options

    The device is a much-needed addition to the medical arsenal, he said, because in the past physicians have had few options to offer patients with severe bladder control problems. Some medications can help regulate bladder function, but they don't work for all patients and can have unpleasant side-effects, he noted. Some patients may undergo a surgical procedure known as bladder augmentation, but it is a major operation that has mixed results, he said.

    "We just have very weak tools to combat this kind of problem, so this [device] is a welcome addition," Anderson said.

    Patients go through a preliminary, three-to-seven-day period of testing before the bladder pacemaker can be installed. This involves use of a test stimulator, resembling a pager, that the patient can wear on a belt. The stimulator is attached to a pacer electrode that is placed through the skin of the patient's lower back, where it generates an electrical pulse to the sacral nerves.

    About 50 percent of the time, the test stimulator is found to help relieve patients' symptoms and restore bladder control, Anderson said. These individuals then can be fitted with the implantable device. For patients, installation is a relatively simple surgical procedure that takes 1 1/2 to two hours, he said.

    Although few physicians currently have experience in installing the new device, Tanagho said he expects the the pacemaker to gain wider availability over time as more urologists receive the specialized training required for its implantation and use.


    A patient's perspective

    Dianalynn Pfennig, a patient with multiple sclerosis, said her bladder problems became so severe that she would always bring a change of clothes with her when she left the house. In 1996, her doctor recommended that she be fitted with a catheter, a tube attached to the bladder which must be drained several times a day. She said she knew a catheter would be severely limiting and could make her susceptible to bladder infections.

    "I'm living here in the center of technology," said Pfennig, a resident of San Jose, Calif. "I told my doctor, 'There's got to be a better way.'"

    She contacted Anderson, who was studying the still-experimental device at the time. Anderson fitted her with a bladder pacemaker at Stanford in July 1997. Pfennig said she has been virtually dry ever since, although she still brings a change of clothes wherever she goes, out of sheer habit.

    "It's been the best thing that's ever come down the pike for me," she said.


    Original concept

    The original concept for the device grew out of Tanagho's research in the 1970s on methods for managing the bladder in patients with spinal cord injuries. Duke University researchers had proposed a method of implanting an electrode in the spinal cord for this purpose, but Tanagho said he found that this approach could damage the cells in the spinal cord that control urination.

    With support from the National Institutes of Health, he then began exploring the idea of implanting electrodes into the nerve bundles in the sacral root, conducting clinical trials in the 1980s on paraplegic and quadriplegic patients. In the process, he said, he found that neurostimulation also could be helpful to much less severely injured patients who nonetheless had difficulties with bladder control.

    "We found we could rehabilitate them and restore normal bladder function," he said.

    In the late 1980s, Tanagho directed clinical trials on the first-generation bladder pacemaker, recruiting Anderson to participate. UCSF now holds the patent on the technology, which is licensed to Medtronic Inc., of Minneapolis. Medtronic manufactures the device under the trade name Interstim.

    UCSF Stanford Health Care is a private, nonprofit organization created in November 1997 to bring together the patient-care services of Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco.
    ###

    graphic of bladder pacemaker
    Last edited by Wheelie_girl_; 02-20-2007 at 04:01 AM.

  2. #2
    WG, I have not heard of this before. I was unable to find a published report of the clinical trial results on Medline from this group at Stanford and UCSF. While there are press releases on the subject, I could not find any third-party reviews of the device.

    When I do a search on internet, I found a number of other groups working on other bladder stimulation devices For example, Duke University recently reported a "smart" bladders stimulator that can be used in cats to produce micturition.
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releas...-bea021207.php
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/inde...us-bladder.xml

    In the meantime, the company that has the most experience with stimulator devices is Medtronics and they already have several stimulator devices for various bladder problems http://www.medtronic.com/patients/bladder.html They make the interstim device for reducing incontinence.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young
    WG, I have not heard of this before. I was unable to find a published report of the clinical trial results on Medline from this group at Stanford and UCSF. While there are press releases on the subject, I could not find any third-party reviews of the device.

    When I do a search on internet, I found a number of other groups working on other bladder stimulation devices For example, Duke University recently reported a "smart" bladders stimulator that can be used in cats to produce micturition.
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releas...-bea021207.php
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/inde...us-bladder.xml

    In the meantime, the company that has the most experience with stimulator devices is Medtronics and they already have several stimulator devices for various bladder problems http://www.medtronic.com/patients/bladder.html They make the interstim device for reducing incontinence.
    Thanks Dr Young , I saw it on the news but not sure if it true or nor

  4. #4
    I ahve trhe medtronics stimulator implanted in me and i can honestly say it has not helped me I started going on my own again beforee i had this surgery and the doc went ahead and done th esurgery anyways saying it woud help even more i have to say to me it doesn't seem to help me i still have accident s every once in a while but can not tell the device is doing any good for it feels the same as from before i had this implanted in me alot of discomfort at the site of the device and sometimes it is painful as well ..

    Jodie Lynn

  5. #5
    Senior Member Scott Buxton's Avatar
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    Jodie - Thanks for your words. I was looking into the Medtronic Interstim for my best friend (who has an SCI.), but wondered about it. BUT I just posted something I found tonight which is "smart", and perhaps better. Scott.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    In Dec. 2003 they did the trial for the spinal stimulator by Medtronic and they removed it , but then in Feb 2004 , they did the final implant and for me I've had 7 back operations and my injury was at L5- S1 at first then L5 -S1 had to be fused then L4 had to be fused to L5 now I have bulging at L3 and L2 . When they did the final inplant on me the DR. told me he could help take away the pain in only one leg I told him my right leg was worse , however after the operation the stimulator helped on both legs , I've had it 3 years this month , and for me I have no more bottom pain or leg pain other than my knees ,but I wouldn't give up my stimulator for anything ,Good Luck .LBUSH

  7. #7
    tnx guys for info

  8. #8
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    Medtronics stimulator

    Hey guys this is my first post so go eazy on me. I am a incomplete walking T12 four years post injury L1 L2 L3 all fused together with rods and clamps. I have the medtronics stimulator implanted however this was implanted for bowel control not bladder. The guys from medtronics and the royal melbourne used me as a gunie pig two years ago first one lead for twelve months then a second lead was implanted. It helps bowel control 40 to 50% in other words cuts accidents by half but unfortunately did not get rid of them. No change at all for bladder control.

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