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Interstitial Cystitis

Q: What is interstitial cystitis?

Dr. Donnica:
Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a clinical syndrome characterized by the urgent and frequent need to urinate in combination with the sensation of pelvic pain in the absence of any identifiable infection or other cause. It may affect up to 700,000 Americans, 90% of whom are women. The cause is unknown and it is difficult to identify. This contributes to significant psychological, social and hygienic problems for patients with IC. The good news is that there is an FDA-approved medication available to treat bladder pain associated with IC: Elmiron® (Ortho McNeil Pharmaceuticals).

Elmiron® (pentosan polysulfate sodium), first FDA-approved in 1996, is the only oral medication approved specifically for use in IC. Elmiron is thought to work by restoring a damaged, thin, or "leaky" bladder surface, easing the pain and discomfort of IC.

Elmiron must be taken continually for several months before improvement may be seen. Physicians will often prescribe Elmiron along with other more immediate-acting medications so that patients can get symptomatic relief sooner.

Created: 7/11/2002  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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