Bladder instillation is sometimes called a bladder wash.
During a bladder instillation, doctors use a thin tube or catheter to fill up the bladder with medications that may include dimethyl sulfoxide, steroids, heparin or another kinds of local anesthesia.
The patient keeps the liquid inside the bladder for about 15 minutes or so before the solution drains out through the catheter. Through this method, the liquids aid in reducing internal inflammation, which decreases pain.
Bladder instillations are sometimes part of a treatment plan to relieve the symptoms of interstitial cystitis. Some also call it “painful bladder syndrome." This chronic disorder comes from an inflamed bladder wall. When the lining of the bladder becomes scarred or stiffens, it leads to complications like decreased bladder capacity. While this condition has no permanent cure, bladder instillations help prevent the condition from getting worse and can relieve pain for some time.
While interstitial cystitis is the most common reason doctors prescribe bladder instillations, they also help with several other bladder and urinary tract problems.
For example, this internal “bladder wash" is also effective at treating conditions like:
Frequent urination from limited bladder capacity
Chronic urinary tract infections
Sediment buildups in the urine stream
These symptoms may indicate that you could benefit from a bladder instillation. Anyone with a urinary-tract related condition such as interstitial cystitis should consult their doctor about bladder wash treatments.
Typical symptoms of these kinds of problems can include:
Urinating very frequently
Sensing pain, pressure or other odd tenderness around the bladder or pelvic area
Having pain during sexual intercourse
Men often have discomfort in the scrotum or penis
Women generally have more pain around their bladder during their menstrual cycle
What to Expect
First, keep in mind that people respond in different ways to a bladder instillation. On average, most patients see improvements within one month after starting their bladder wash treatments. It is common for doctors to schedule these procedures up to once a week for eight weeks to help manage symptoms.
Urologists may need to do follow-up inspections of the bladder to check the health of the urinary tract. To get the most benefit out of bladder instillations, it helps to make other lifestyle changes such as avoiding excessively spicy or acidic food in the daily diet. Since alcohol is also very acidic, reducing alcohol consumption also helps to improve bladder health. Both mental and physical stress can aggravate any inflammatory conditions, so relaxation techniques and gentle exercise programs such as yoga can help. On occasion, electrical-stimulation therapy and various bladder-training exercises may also be a good idea if recommended by the physician.
For long-term treatment plans with bladder instillation, doctors may perform follow-up tests every six months. They generally check the patient’s blood count, liver and kidney performance, and urine tests. For more complicated urinary tract conditions, visual examinations may be necessary using a tiny camera attached to a lighted scope, known as a cystoscope.