Robert Evans, MD, ICA Medical Advisory Board member, answers frequently asked questions about InterStim.

Will InterStim help with the pain of IC?

With InterStim, you are really affecting the nerves that cause increased urinary frequency. You should not expect that it will have an effect on your pain. Although some patients do get pain relief, further research is needed to assess this device’s effects on the pain of IC.

Will I get immediate relief of my symptoms?

Some patients may experience immediate relief. Others may require reprogramming of the permanent implant, up to several times, in order to achieve optimal results.

How long can the test stimulator be left in place?

It can be left in place for about a week. After that length of time, the wires move themselves out, the tape tends to peel off, and effectiveness is lost.

Will my insurance cover InterStim?

Medtronic has been very helpful in getting the stimulators pre-approved. My policy is that we do not do a test stimulation until we get approval to test and pre-approval to use the permanent implant from the insurance company or Medicare.

What kinds of physical activity can you do after InterStim implantation?

For the first week or so, the patient needs to keep the area dry. After about three weeks, when the incision is fully healed, there is no limitation of activity.

How long does the InterStim battery last?

Right now it is felt that the neuromodulator should work for seven to ten years. The company makes a nearly identical pulse generator for pacemakers. When the battery needs to be replaced, your physician can make a small incision and put a new battery in. This procedure takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Is InterStim implanted under general anesthesia?

Yes. The permanent device is implanted under general anesthesia. However, for the test implant, the patient has to be awake so that they can let their doctor know if their bladder symptoms are responding to the test stimulator.

Revised Monday, March 30th, 2015