Neurostimulation Is Revolutionizing OAB Treatment

March 7, 2020

Overactive bladder is more common than you think. But sometimes, it’s hard to tell on your own whether it’s an actual condition you have or something extraneous. Some of the symptoms of overactive bladder include the following:

– Do you pee more frequently than you would often like?
– Do you experience sudden urges to run to the restroom but leak on yourself when you can’t make it in time?
– Do you have to change through multiple pads or diapers daily?
– Do you at all times know where the restrooms are located whenever you go grocery shopping or out in public?
– Are you unable to sit through movies, shows, concerts, or other activities for prolonged periods of time due to the need to use the restroom frequently?

If you’ve answered “Yes” to any of the above questions then there is a chance that you may have some form of overactive bladder. While these self-tests are good indicators, we always suggest visiting your local urologist before making any serious decision.

What Is Overactive Bladder?

Overactive bladder, or “OAB,” is a life-inhibiting condition that impacts a wide margin of people. In fact, up to 45% of men and women in the world are diagnosed with OAB.

Most of the time, people notice these symptoms and consider them “part of the normal aging process” and choose not to bring these bladder symptoms up with their healthcare providers. As a result, many people have OAB but few realize that they are able to seek treatment for it if their symptoms become too bothersome.

OAB Diagnosis

OAB is diagnosed by your doctor after history, physical, and urine tests are conducted. After other possible diagnoses have been ruled out such as infection, kidney stones, etc, then your doctor may suggest that you have overactive bladder and refer you to a urologist.

OAB Treatment

If it turns out you are diagnosed with OAB, don’t get worried. There are several different OAB treatment methods available, many of which are available at the Austin Urology Institute.

Conservative therapy –

This is where everyone starts. Sometimes lifestyle changes such as a fluid moderation, recording a bladder diary, performing pelvic floor exercises, avoiding certain foods and bladder irritants are all that are needed to help your symptoms resolve!

Medications –

If conservative therapy does not help, sometimes your doctor may prescribe bladder control medication that relieves symptoms. There are numerous medications available but common side effects that are experienced by patients can include high blood pressure, constipation, dry mouth, dizziness, blurry vision, mental “fogginess,” increased chance of falls, and early-onset dementia. Prior to initiating any OAB medications, please speak with your doctors regarding these risks and benefits and whether they are right for you.

Botox Therapy –

Yes, you’ve read correctly. Just like how Botox can be injected into the face to relax your face muscles to eliminate wrinkles, bladder botox can be injected in a quick and safe office/clinic environment for bladder relief. For many patients, bladder botox can be very effective and offer excellent control of your OAB symptoms. Patients who have either failed or do not wish to try conservative or medication therapy for OAB often opt for Botox as an effective procedure to help control their symptoms.

Sacral Neuromodulation (SNM) –

Similar to reasons for bladder botox, sacral neuromodulation is another safe and effective option for patients who are considered to have “refractory overactive bladder” that has not been responsive to other procedures.

While bladder botox treats the muscles that can cause OAB, SNM directly addresses the nerves that may be overactive and cause the bladder to squeeze without your consent. Sacral neuromodulation has recently shown itself to be an excellent option for patients who are looking for an effective long term answer to their OAB symptoms.

What is Sacral Neuromodulation?

Sacral neuromodulation, or neurostimulation with the Axonics™ device, is a technologically advanced, minimally invasive, reversible, and simple procedure that is performed to treat overactive bladder, urinary urgency, incontinence, urinary blockage, frequency, and bowel (fecal) incontinence in both women and men.

During this procedure, a small, removable, implantable device is placed to test and stimulate the nerves of your bladder to either “quiet” it down or to “help it squeeze better.” Think of it as a “pacemaker” or “white noise machine” for your bladder!

Am I Eligible for Sacral Neuromodulation?

You are considered a candidate for this OAB procedure if you experience overactive bladder or are unable to urinate due to non-obstructive issues.

You may also be a suitable candidate for the procedure if:
– Medications no longer work, do not work, or cannot be tolerated
– You desire to stop taking medications for your bladder
– You desire for an alternative to bladder injections
– You experience leakage of fecal matter

This procedure is NOT appropriate for you if:
You experience urinary leakage with coughing, laughing, sneezing, lifting.
Cannot operate the Axonics neuromodulation device
You are not considered healthy enough for surgery.
You experience urinary blockage from your prostate, cancer, or urethral scar tissue

About the Axonics ™ treatment system

The Axonics ™ device is a tiny implantable device that is made up of two parts: a small wire (lead) and the neurostimulator (“Pacemaker”).

Benefits/Advantages

The Axonics™ system is the ONLY MRI safe and compatible neuromodulation device- It does not need to be removed or turned off prior to a MRI
The battery system is rechargeable and small – meaning greater durability and less discomfort
Greater than 90% satisfaction rates
Less than 2% complication rates
The device is typically installed only once without the need for repeat procedures

Results

Patients who undergo the neurostimulation procedure have reported:
– Up to 85% satisfaction rates and improvements in quality of life
– Up to 90% of patients have a greater than 50% reduction in symptoms at 6 months
– Up to 45% complete cure and continence rate at 5 years
– Sustained symptom control up to 5 years
– Decreased catheterization volumes and number of catheterizations (for patients with urine blockage)

While we offer several different treatment methods for OAB, sacral neuromodulation with the AxonicsTM device is often the best or only solution for bladder problems.

To see if neuromodulation or any of the above-mentioned treatment options are right for you and your overactive bladder, schedule your consultation with your primary urologist or see the dynamic duo of Drs. Tsai and Dr. Shaw and their practiced team at the Austin Urology Institute.