A surgically implanted bladder pacemaker affects the bladder by sending electrical impulses to the nerves, which signal the bladder and pelvic muscles to contract or relax in order to hold or release urine, according to the Stanford Report. This enables patients with voiding problems to control urine storage and release.
The electrical stimulation that bladder pacemakers provide to the nerves is called neurostimulation, explains Healthgrades. The therapy is similar to the way a cardiac pacemaker regulates the heart. A doctor surgically implants the device near the tailbone during an outpatient procedure, then the patient uses a hand-held programming device to adjust the stimulation strength. The hand-held device then sends radio signals to the neurostimulator that is under the skin.
Research shows that this device reduces the number of leaking episodes in most patients within six months, notes the Stanford Report. Side effects are infrequent and mild, with the most common including skin irritation and infection, discomfort at the implantation site, and movement of the lead wire. Patients often feel a tugging, vibrating or tingling sensation when using the device. This breakthrough is especially helpful for patients with debilitating illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and interstitial cystitis, as these diseases can cause problematic bladder control problems.