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Interstitial Cysts

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Interstitial cysts is a condition that causes urine urgency and increase in urinary frequency. This condition disrupts the life of the patient as one cannot control their bladder and have to pass urine frequently. Let us have a look at interstitial cysts and its causes in the following paragraphs.

What are Interstitial Cysts (IC)?

Interstitial cysts is a condition that causes one to suffer from chronic pain or discomfort in the bladder and pelvic region. This pain may be mild, severe or discomforting in nature. It can affect people of any age group even children, but more common in women over the age of 40 years. The condition can undergo a remission period, and the severity of the symptoms may be different in different individuals. This condition is known by different names like:

  • Painful bladder syndrome
  • Hypersensitive bladder syndrome
  • Bladder pain syndrome (BPS)

Symptoms of Interstitial Cysts

Many times, this condition is often confused with cystitis, that is inflammation of the bladder due to bacterial infection. In case of interstitial cysts, there is no infection of any kind observed. The symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination as often as within 15 minutes of urinating previously
  • Urinary urgency
  • Pain in the pelvic region or bladder
  • Burning sensation during urination (in some cases)
  • Urge to urinate after sleep, such that one has to wake up from sleep to urinate (nocturia)
  • Urinary hesitancy (wait period before the urine passes)
  • Pain during sexual intercourse

The symptoms doesn't only vary person to person, but also vary day to day in a patient. Men may complain of pain in their penis or scrotum and women may find the symptoms worsen during their periods.

Causes of Interstitial Cysts

The exact cause of interstitial cysts is unknown. It has also been found that there is no bacterial infection involved in the condition. Thus, many theories were proposed to draw a conclusion to the exact cause. However, nothing concrete has been proposed as yet. It has been found women who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia are more prone to interstitial cysts. Also, people with certain allergies that causes inflammation of the organs, systemic lupus erythematous, endometriosis are likely to develop this condition. At times the presence of ulcers may cause the bladder to lose its ability to hold urine. A condition called Hunner’s ulcers affects less than 10% of the cases of interstitial cysts.

Genetic aspect has also been considered as a cause of interstitial cysts. This is because multiple cases of interstitial cysts have been reported within a family at times. However, research in this direction is still on.

Diagnosis of Interstitial Cysts

Diagnosis is based on physical examination and maintaining a bladder report. This helps the doctor find out how many times during the day and night a patient had to urinate. Other than that, laboratory tests like urinalysis is carried out. This helps in finding any possible infection causing cystitis.

For men, a prostatic fluid test is carried out to find possible infections of the prostate. A potassium sensitivity test is carried out to evaluate the bladder lining for any kind of leakage. However, this test is no longer recommended. Other than this cytoscopy and biopsy are carried out.

Treatment for Interstitial Cysts

There is no particular treatment for interstitial cysts. The treatment depends on individual cases and their symptoms. Some of the treatments suggested are as follows:

Medications: In order to get relief from the symptoms of interstitial cystitis medications are prescribed. These medications include

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. The pain in the bladder can be controlled with the help of tricyclic antidepressants.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): This is a process where mild electrical pulses are administered over the pubic area or lower back region. It helps in reducing the urgency as well as frequency to urinate.
  • Bladder distention: With the help of water or gas the bladder is stretched under anesthesia. This helps in increasing the capacity of the bladder and decreases the frequency to urinate.
  • Surgery: In very rare cases, surgery like bladder augmentation or resection is advised to treat interstitial cysts.

Prognosis of the condition depends on the response of the individual patient to treatment. Many patients show improvement with proper treatment. However, at times long term treatment plans are required to control the condition.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: February 4, 2015

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