RALEIGH, N.C. — Many people have problems controlling urination and no medications or therapies seem to help. A special implant could be the answer Lila Forrest and other patients have been looking for.
For many years, Forrest came to Dr. Richard Kane, a urologist at Rex Hospital, with the same urinary problem.
"We tried everything," she said. "I had no control. I might be out socially and all of the sudden, I would just have no control."
Forrest has urinary incontinence. When she got the urge to urinate, she could not get to a bathroom soon enough.
A year ago, Kane found something that would help called Interstim therapy.
A small pulse generator is implanted just below the skin. Mild electrical impulses follow a thin wire to the nerves that control the bladder. With an external control, she can set the voltage to where she knows it is working.
Interstim therapy does not work for everyone. A temporarily implanted needle connected to a battery outside the body tests who will benefit, but can only stay in for a week.
"If it's working, most of the patients say this is great and they don't want me to take it out because they've been very happy with it," Kane said.
Then they are scheduled for the surgical implant. Forrest says it has changed her life.
"Well, I'm freer. I can go places. I can go out to lunch. I can go out to the club and play bridge," she said.
"To see patients get dry and be able to do things they want to is terrific," Kane said.
The implanted battery lasts eight years and can be easily replaced. The minor discomfort of surgery was no problem for Forrest.
"For me, it was worth it because of what I experienced," she said.