What is Interstim?
Interstim is a sacral neuromodulator for people with chronic fecal incontinence. It delivers a mild electrical stimulation that regulates the nerve between the bowel and brain. This helps restore the function of the anus, dramatically decreasing and preventing fecal leakage and incontinence. Dr. Ahmed does a week-long Interstim test to assure the device works for you. If it does, the device is placed permanently as a long-term treatment for incontinence. It also helps improve some types of urinary incontinence.
Why is Interstim Done?
An estimated 1 in 12 adults in the United States suffer from fecal incontinence, which is a symptom that can significantly impair quality of life. Sometimes kegal exercises can improve incontinence in some patients, but often do not achieve a satisfactory level of improvement. Interstim can greatly improve control of the bowels and greatly reduce embarrassing and inconvenient accidents.
How Should I Prepare for Interstim Test?
You will fast after midnight for the procedure, as you will be under sedation for the procedure. You will need a driver home after the procedure. Our office will contact you to hold blood thinners prior to the procedure.
What Can I Expect During the Interstim Test?
Dr. Ahmed will place two wires under the skin in the lower back. These wires will stay in place for one week, and are attached to a small neuromodulator device that is the size of a deck of cards. You will wear this device on your belt or waistband during that week. During the week long test you can participate in most of your normal daily activities, but you will not be able to submerge the wires, so sponge baths are necessary. You will also need to take care not to twist or engage in vigorous activity that week, so that the wires do not move. Assuring the wires stay in place will help you achieve the best response to the test period.
What Happens After the Interstim Test?
After having the one-week test period, you will return to our office for an office visit, during which one of the Providers will painlessly remove the wires and equipment. You can then shower and completely resume your normal activities. If the test improved your incontinence symptoms, we will then refer you to a surgeon who can discuss permanent placement with you. If you decide to have the device placed permanently, the surgeon will place a small quarter-sized device under the skin of the buttock. You will have no long-term external wires or equipment.
What are the Possible Complications of Interstim Test?
Mild pain at the site of the wire placement, infection, or bleeding are very rare complications. Most patients have no complications from the Interstim Test.