A bladder instillation is a procedure that is used to treat a variety of urological conditions. Sometimes called a bladder wash, it involves filling the bladder with a liquid that contains therapeutic compounds. The solution may relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and protect the bladder from damage.
Dimethyl sulfoxide is an FDA-approved ingredient that is used during a bladder instillation. This medication is thought to function by calming spasms that can occur in the muscles surrounding the bladder. It may also allow the bladder to hold more urine.
As dimethyl sulfoxide is absorbed into the bladder wall, it reduces inflammation. Heparin may be added to protect the bladder from further damage. This medication simulates the action of the bladder’s mucosal lining.
What Conditions Can a Bladder Instillation Treat?
A bladder instillation is most often used to treat interstitial cystitis, or IC. IC is sometimes referred to as frequency-urgency-dysuria syndrome, or painful bladder syndrome. The painful condition affects approximately 700,000 American adults. About 90 percent of sufferers are female.
Doctors aren’t sure what causes IC, and there is no cure. The disease is marked by inflammation of the bladder. Patients with this condition may experience a breakdown in the protective barrier of the bladder wall.
The bladder can develop bleeding lesions or scar tissue. Symptoms of IC include frequent urination, and pain in the genital and pelvic region. Women’s symptoms may intensify during their menstrual cycles.
This procedure may also be used to treat chronic urinary tract infections or bladder pain. People with other conditions that affect urinary continence, capacity, and frequency may gain relief from a bladder instillation.
How is a Bladder Instillation Performed?
A bladder instillation is performed at the urologist’s office. While the patient is lying down, a catheter is guided through the urethra and into the bladder. The wash is slowly inserted into the bladder through this tube before the catheter is removed.
Patients are asked to retain the liquid in the bladder for at least 15 minutes. The doctor will tell the patient when it’s time to empty the bladder.
This procedure is usually performed once every week or two. Depending on the condition that’s being treated and its severity, regular bladder instillations may be necessary for about six to eight weeks.
Every patient experiences different results from this procedure. However, a bladder wash usually relieves a great deal of pain, discomfort, and urinary dysfunction.
If symptoms return after a cycle of bladder washes is performed, a patient may receive another series of treatments. Patients who undergo this procedure on a long-term basis should get a complete blood count, urine test, liver function test, and kidney function exam every six months.