Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO, brand name RIMSO-50) was the first and remains the only FDA-approved bladder instillation specifically for interstitial cystitis (IC). Approved in 1978, its exact mechanism of action is still not fully known, though it is thought to have several effects positive effects:

  • Reducing bladder irritation and pain (anti-inflammatory)
  • Helping to relax the bladder and pelvic muscles (antispasmodic)
  • Relieving pain by depleting the level of substance P levels from bladder nerves
  • Increasing bladder capacity by breaking down scar tissue by preventing the formation of collagen, a protein the body uses to create scar tissue

Because of its ability to penetrate the bladder lining, some healthcare providers add DMSO to “bladder cocktails” to aid the absorption of other bladder-instilled medicines, such as heparin, steroids, bicarbonate, and analgesics (pain medicines). However, as reported in the Fall 2009 Professional Perspectives, there are changes in practice regarding preference for medicines mixed in bladder cocktails.

Revised Monday, July 6th, 2015