ITNS Overactive Bladder Treatment Takes Helen From “Live With it” to “Living Again”

Helen with Dr. Sethi celebrating her successful overactive bladder treatment | Pacific Urology| East San Francisco Bay Area
Helen, holding the ITNS implant electrode, with Dr. Parminder Sethi.

Helen, 52, suffered the spectrum of overactive bladder symptoms – urgency, frequency and wetting accidents – all her life. She never escaped the constant nervous feeling of having to go. Nor could she outwit the subsequent disruption in her life, whether it was asking the school bus driver to pull over on field trips or always looking for the closest bathroom. The problem only worsened after having children.

Her quality of life was limited by the persistent need to be within a short range of the ladies’ room.

It’s mistakenly thought that overactive bladder and incontinence are “older people” problems. But Helen was only a child when the condition started.

Over time, she began to think that an OAB was just something she had to deal with. It would take many years – and a huge amount of determination – before she found relief.

A long road to normalcy from constant urine leakage (with a few pitstops)

About 10 years ago, Helen finally sought overactive bladder treatment with a urologist who prescribed several different medications. They didn’t do the trick. She then tried Kegels and other home remedies, all to no avail.

“I was always a bit of a trooper,” says Helen. “After a while, I figured I just had to live with it and didn’t go back.”

Helen’s fear of urine leakage was slowly taking over her life. It is an uncomfortable and, for many, deeply embarrassing problem.

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So eventually, about two years ago, Helen did go back to a doctor. But this time she saw Pacific Urology’s Dr. Parminder Sethi, whose specialties include incontinence and bladder reconstructive surgery.

Why suffer? Why not try overactive bladder treatment?

“Men and women are often embarrassed to talk about incontinence, although it is a widespread issue. The question everyone needs to ask themselves is, ‘How does this impact my life?’ Dr. Sethi says. “If it has an adverse effect, there are a wide variety of overactive bladder treatments available. Life is too short to suffer when relief is so close at hand.”

After an initial course of medications, which turned out to be ineffective, Dr. Sethi began other overactive bladder treatment courses. Helen eventually found relief with electrical nerve stimulation, which strengthened her pelvic floor and helped train her bladder to not tense unless it was full.

While the treatment lessened symptoms, Helen still visited the doctor frequently, typically every 3-4 weeks for 30-minute appointments.

ITNS clinical trial for Helen’s OAB

But with Helen’s initial success, Dr. Sethi knew she was a prime candidate for a clinical trial using an implantable tibial nerve stimulator (ITNS) in patients with overactive bladders.

With ITNS, an electrode is placed in the ankle near the tibial nerve, which regulates bladder function. The electrodes send mild electrical pulses intended to achieve bladder control.

The novel device is implanted in an outpatient procedure. Once calibrated, patients only need to visit Dr. Sethi every few months to check in and ensure the treatment is working.

Although just in the clinical trial phase, ITNS is a potential game-changer for OAB patients resistant to medications and other therapies. ITNS could provide longer-lasting results with fewer doctor visits. The device itself has a projected battery life between 7 and 10 years, and requires no recharging.

In December, Helen received her implant and has not looked back.

“There was minimal pain – there weren’t even any stitches involved,” Helen explains. “Within a day, I was back to my normal routine.”

Taking back control

Looking back, Helen is amazed that such a small thing has made such a huge impact on her life. “I can’t feel the implant on my leg, it only left a tiny scar. Yet, it has made such a huge improvement to my life.

“My family can see that I am happier and more positive,” adds Helen. “I am more active; I can hike and do other things I couldn’t before. It’s a life changer.”

While Helen’s ability to “soldier on” helped her live a full life while enduring an overactive bladder, it is also a call to the millions of men and women with OAB: you don’t have to suffer.

“I hope by telling my story I can help others. I should’ve made more of an effort, instead of taking the approach of ‘I’ll just live with it.’ Not anymore!” she cheers.

And since ITNS devices are projected to last up to 10 years, Helen could have a long and symptomless future ahead of her before needing a replacement.


Pacific Urology offers a variety of state-of-the-art treatments for overactive bladder. If you are interested in learning more about current and future novel treatments, and upcoming clinical trials, please make an appointment with one of our physicians.

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