(MINOT, ND) – Obstetrician/Gynecologist
Timothy Bedell, MD, is grateful that his residency training in Michigan acquainted him with a hard-to-diagnose condition affecting the bladder. But it’s safe to say he’s not nearly as grateful as the patients who’ve benefited from his experience.
Since joining Trinity Health a year ago, Dr. Bedell has treated a significant number of patients with a condition called interstitial cystitis, also known as IC or Painful Bladder Syndrome.
“IC is a chronic, inflammatory condition of the bladder that acts much like a stomach ulcer,” Dr. Bedell explains. “Both the bladder and stomach have a coating
that protects the lining. When acid irritates the stomach lining, an ulcer develops. Something similar happens to the bladder with IC.”
Common symptoms of IC are:
- Pain and/or pressure in the bladder or pelvic region
- Frequent urination
- A feeling of urgency to urinate
- Pain during sex
According to Dr. Bedell, one of the vexing things with IC is that the symptoms are similar to many other conditions, so misdiagnosis is common. The most common blind alleys are chronic pelvic pain and urinary tract infection.
“If a patient has been treated for pelvic pain and hasn’t found relief, I ask about urination,” Dr. Bedell said. “If a patient is going to the bathroom every hour or so and getting up four times a night, I suspect IC.”
The good news is that once a patient is thought to be a candidate for IC, a confirmation diagnosis isn’t hard to achieve. In addition to a doctor exam and thorough medical history, a potassium sensitivity test is conducted in which a catheter
is inserted into the bladder and three different solutions are injected, one containing potassium. “If the patient reacts to the potassium solution, it’s a good bet we’re dealing with IC,” he explains.
Although there is no known cure for IC, relief can be achieved through proper treatment. ELMIRON is an FDA-approved oral medication that helps protect the bladder lining and alleviates the pain and discomfort associated with IC.
“Patients take it three times a day for a number of weeks; then we start to wean them off. I advise
patients to keep some on hand for flair ups,” Dr. Bedell says, adding, “Diet is an important factor too. There are five major food triggers and a list of other foods that can be a problem. I tell patients to eliminate one food item at a time for three days to see if it helps. They can go through the list systematically and eliminate any foods that are a problem.”
The exact number of people with IC is unknown, but most estimates suggest four to nine million Americans may be affected. Although it is most commonly recognized in women, men also can develop it.
“Because it’s often misdiagnosed people can spend years in treatment with no relief,” Dr. Bedell notes. “By the time I see them they’ve had exploratory surgery, colonoscopy and laparoscopy procedures.”
It’s no wonder then that one patient who was successfully treated for IC wrote to Dr. Bedell, saying, “Thanks to you I’m able to pay attention to my life again.”
native, Dr. Bedell earned his medical degree from the University of North
Dakota School of Medicine in Grand Forks and
completed his Ob/Gyn residency at Grand Rapids Medical Education and Research Center
in Michigan. He has a strong background in gynecologic
surgery, urogynecology, and the treatment of incontinence and pelvic
prolapse. For further information or for
an appointment, please call Dr. Timothy Bedell at Health Center-Medical Arts,
Sources: Interstitial Cystitis Association, (www.ichelp.org) and Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/ic)