Incontinence is an uncomfortable and embarrassing problem for many people, especially as they age. It used to be treated with surgery but that wasn't always successful. A new outpatient procedure has changed that. It's also changing lives.
Oralia Cosme says, "It makes you cry when you have accidents."
Leaving the house used to be a problem for Cosme. She suffered from incontinence of the bowel.
"I would go to a department store and I'd be shopping around and then, all of a sudden, I make a certain type of move, and I feel something...it's not right," Cosme explains.
But that's all changed, thanks to a sacral nerve stimulator. Mario Alcantara, M.D., Colorectal Surgeon at the South Texas Colorectal Center says, "It's a very simple device, in fact, it's basically a pacemaker."
Dr. Alcantara says incontinence used to be treated by tightening sphincter muscles that affect the bowel and the bladder. He explains, "We've learned over time that it's not necessarily just the muscle, it's more of a nerve related issue."
The sacral nerve stimulator enhances the nerve action of the sphincter muscles. A tiny wire is inserted in the back through the tailbone. Dr. Alcantara says, "And it lays right next to the nerve there."
The computerized device is implanted in the buttocks. It's programmable by remote, and runs on a battery that lasts up to 10 years before it needs replacing.
"It's been phenomenal. It's changed what we do for surgery, it really has," Dr. Alcantara saiys.
The procedure has changed Cosme's life. She says, "Now, I can get on top of the world and just tell everybody, do it!"
Surgery for the sacral nerve stimulator is done on an outpatient basis, and the cost is around $1000. Many insurance companies will cover most of the cost.