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Johns Hopkins Health - Putting a Stop to Bladder Control Problems

Spring 2009
Issue No. 4

Putting a Stop to Bladder Control Problems

Date: April 24, 2009

Men and women bathroom symbol

Urinary incontinence is no laughing matter for about 13 million people in the U.S., mostly women. From work and social activities to vacations and relationships, it disrupts your daily life and may even leave you feeling as if there’s not much you can do about it.

A new treatment called sacral nerve stimulation may change that.

“This is something that virtually overnight can change a person’s life,” says Johns Hopkins urologist James Wright, M.D. The device acts like a pacemaker for the bladder, sending mild electrical impulses to the sacral nerves that control the bladder and surrounding muscles. The pulses, Wright says, help to restore more normal function.

Sacral nerve stimulation is most successful in people who have urge incontinence, urinary frequency or urinary retention, and then only after they’ve tried and failed with bladder retraining and medication. After a testing period, the device is then permanently implanted near the lower back.

“I’ve had patients who used to use the bathroom every hour who now only use it every three hours,” Wright says. “And those who used to wet themselves during the day or night who don’t even worry about it anymore.”

Learn more about treatments for incontinence at hopkinsmedicine.org/urology. For appointments or consultations, call 877-546-1872.

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