The American Urology Association encourages patients to embrace self-help strategies, such as diet modification. Foods high in acid and caffeine can trigger severe pain and discomfort, including: coffees (regular & decaf), black teas, green teas, citrus fruit juices (orange, lemon, lime), cranberry, artificial sugars and vitamins which contain Vitamin C and B6. LEARN MORE
Fulguration uses heat to burn the area of the lesion or ulcer while laser therapy uses an electric current or laser beam. This then destroys the local nerves in the area which causes a decrease in the substances which trigger the inflammation.
More than 90% of patients report atleast a 50% improvement in pain after the procedure with some lasting for years.(1) For other patients, however, the lesion can recur in the area, resulting in pain can returning within three to nine months. Additional treatment may be required. Fulguration can also cause bladder wall scarring that could decrease bladder capacity over time.
Fulguration or laser therapy are always performed under general or spinal anesthesia. An anesthetic solution is often placed in the bladder at the end of the procedure to numb the bladder and reduce post-operative pain.
Researchers have found that the submucosal injection of triamcinolone into the center and periphery of Hunner’s ulcers to improve patient symptoms and discomfort. One study found that 70% of those patients who received triamcinolone treatment had a significant improvement in their symptoms.(2) Additional studies found the results comparable to those found in fulguration studies.(3) This procedure does not leave scarring on the bladder wall thus is usually tried before more aggressive cauterization.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (aka decompression therapy) is most well known for saving the lives of scuba divers. The patient is placed in a pressurized chamber where they breathe 100% oxygen for a period of time. The increased pressure allows the lungs to absorb more oxygen than they would at normal pressure. The blood stream then delivers the oxygen throughout the body where it can help fight infection, stimulate growth factors and stem cells and enhance healing.
Several studies have shown that HOT therapy can be helpful for IC/BPS.(4-10) Researchers in Japan treated two patients with 20 sessions of hyperbaric therapy, reporting that Hunner’s lesions disappeared completely AND pain and frequency were improved. That same time followed 11 patients (eight with lesions and 3 without) who had not responded to therapies. They received treatment for 60 minutes per day, 5 times per week for 2 to 4 weeks. After ten sessions, seven patients showed significant improvements in their symptoms. The researchers suggest that HOT therapy accelerates the healing phase of ulcerative IC/BPS. An American study found yet more success with 83% of patients reporting improvement in their lesions and 66% showing long term success at six months.
It is now available at specialty centers throughout the USA provided that your urologist is familiar with the technology and willing to try it.
On rare occasions, urologists may choose to remove the lesion from the bladder wall via a resection procedure. The challenge with resection is that it is major surgery that can leave a smaller, less flexible bladder wall. Bladder capacity is reduced as well. The American Urology Association does not recommend surgical resection for the treatment of ulcers/lesions.
Author: Jill Osborne
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