Bladder Matters: The Incontinence Implant for Kids

It can cause embarrassment and even pain. Thousands of children suffer with urinary incontinence every day.

For some, traditional treatments don't work, leaving kids and parents feeling helpless. But now there's an implant that's dramatically improving their lives.

Nine year old Kate Lamons couldn't control her bladder during the day and that led to some embarrassing situations.

"At school, she was changing clothes,” said Kate’s Mother Ashli Lamons. “She was changing underwear constantly because it was always wet."

Her mom Ashli says behavioral therapies and medications didn't help Kate's urinary incontinence. Doctor John Pope implanted the interstim in Kate.

"The wire would come in from the back and lay right up beside the nerve and stimulate that nerve only," explains Dr. John C. Pope IV, MD, a Professor of Urologic Surgery and Pediatrics at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

The device stimulates the sacral nerve coming from the spine that helps control bladder muscles. With a remote, Kate and her mom can increase or decrease the strength as needed.

"It just feels like something is kind of vibrating," explains Kate Lamons who has urinary incontinence.

Kate's had the device for more than a year now and she hasn't had an embarrassing situation at school since.

"I was so excited because I got to take home all of my clothes, extra clothes that I had in my locker," says Kate.

The interstim is FDA approved for adults. Doctor Pope is using it off label for his pediatric patients.

He's one of the few doctors in the U.S. doing so. He's implanted the device in 17 kids. The doctor says almost all of them have had positive results.


TOPIC: Bladder Matters: The Incontinence Implant for Kids
REPORT: MB # 3618

BACKGROUND: Urinary incontinence occurs when a person is unable to control their bladder and so they also have difficulty controlling urination. Some individuals with incontinence "leak" when they sneeze or cough while other people wet themselves on a regular basis because the urge to urinate comes on so strongly and quickly they can't make it to the bathroom. Incontinence is a common problem which can be caused by a multitude of things including underlying medical conditions or physical problems. (Source:

TYPES: Urinary incontinence can be categorized into a few different groups. Some types of incontinence are:
* Stress Incontinence - Stress incontinence refers to when the bladder releases a little urine when pressure, such as from a sneeze, is put on the bladder. This is often the result of an event that weakens the muscles in the bladder such as giving birth.
* Urge Incontinence - This is when the urge to urinate comes on very suddenly followed by involuntary urination. People with urge incontinence may also feel the need to urinate more often than normal.
* Overflow Incontinence - This type of incontinence is when a person is leaking small amounts of urine throughout the day. Because the bladder cannot empty completely, the remaining urine dribbles out constantly. (Source:

RISKS: Certain factors can make a person more likely to experience urinary incontinence. One risk factor is sex because women have a higher risk of stress incontinence because the go through events such as pregnancy, birth, and menopause which can all cause loss of bladder control. Being overweight can also put extra pressure on the bladder and raise the risk of incontinence. More seriously, certain conditions are associated with incontinence including overactive bladder, kidney disease, or even diabetes. In addition to being embarrassing, urinary incontinence can also lead to repeated urinary tract infections and skin problems like rashes or sores. (Source:

NEW TECHNOLOGY: InterStim is a device used to control urinary incontinence in people who do not have a urinary blockage and have not been able to treat their incontinence with other methods. The device is placed in the upper buttock region during a surgical procedure and it uses electrical pulses to help the communication between the sacral nerves and the brain, which are involved in bladder control. There are currently over 100,000 individuals with device and InterStim is removable if the person no longer wishes to have the device. (Source:


John C. Pope IV, MD
Professor, Urologic Surgery and Pediatrics
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
(615) 936-1060

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew McIntosh at

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