Boosting Bladder and Bowel Control

March 30, 2020
Group of older women exercising outdoors

In a procedure performed at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, Enid urologist Jarrett Kruska, MD, was the first in the state to implant the FDA-approved Axonics® Sacral Neuromodulation System – an innovative therapy that uses nerve stimulation to treat bladder and bowel dysfunction.

For people who are experiencing problems like incontinence and the frequent urge to go, Dr. Kruska says, this therapy can provide relief of symptoms when other treatments, such as medication and behavior modification, fail. “This is a huge quality-of-life issue,” he says. “Many people feel they can’t get out of the house to go to church or the grocery store or travel, and if they do, they’re always looking for a bathroom.”

This neuromodulation treatment is covered by most insurances, including Medicare. Inquire about your specific coverage, and talk with your doctor about what’s best for you.

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How Does it Work?

The small neurostimulator implant is placed through a minimally invasive outpatient procedure and acts “like a pacemaker for the bladder,” says Dr. Kruska. “It sends an electrical stimulus to the bladder to reduce overactivity, including frequency and urgency of urination.” It also may be used to treat bowel incontinence or leakage, as well as urinary retention, which is the inability to empty the bladder. 

While this type of therapy has been used in the U.S. for about two decades, the Axonics implant is smaller in size, MRI-compatible and is also the first rechargeable system. Recovery from the procedure is quick, and there is just a very small incision, Dr. Kruska says. “You’re back to normal activities the next day with some minor restrictions.” Results can be expected right away. 

“We expect at least a 50 percent improvement of your symptoms,” and most times, the improvement is much greater, Dr. Kruska says. According to six-month study results reported by Axonics Modulation Technologies, 80 percent of treatment responders had greater than or equal to a 75 percent reduction in urgency leaks.*

For patients who may be considering this therapy “we have the ability to test neuromodulation to see if they respond to it before we put the implant in,” Dr. Kruska says. This can help patients decide with their doctors if this may be right for them.

According to the National Association for Continence, over 33 million Americans suffer from some type of urinary incontinence or bladder condition.

*Axonics Modulation Technologies/FDA Individual results may vary. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Talk with your doctor about these risks to find out if minimally invasive surgery is right for you.