New Option Available for Incontinence, Overactive Bladder

This article appeared in our Spring 2013 Update publication.

Dr. Richard Graham

Dr. Richard Graham

For men and women who have exhausted all other options for the treatment of overactive  bladder or urinary incontinence, Gifford’s Urology Department is offering a new alternative – Medtronic InterStim Therapy, or sacral nerve stimulation.

The therapy involves surgery to place a small, thin device that looks and works much like a pacemaker under the skin in the upper buttock. The device is connected to leads, or soft wires, that are placed near the sacral nerves, sending mild stimulation to the nerves.

“It’s stimulates the nerves that affect the bladder. It turns off the sensory input to some degree and increases motor function,” urologist Dr. Richard Graham explains.

“This is an option for the patient who has tried everything and nothing has worked,” he says.

For patients who have tried other options without success, one major plus of this procedure is that patients can try the device in advance of undergoing surgery.

Right in the office, at either Gifford’s Randolph urology practice or the Twin River Health Center in White River Junction, Dr. Graham or physician assistant Nancy Blessing can insert the leads under the skin near the tailbone and test for a reaction. Patients then go home with an external device for a few days to see if it helps.

Usually the goal is to decrease one’s number of trips to the bathroom by at least half, notes Vice President of Surgery Rebecca O’Berry. Ultimately, it’s up to the patient to decide if, based on the results, he or she wants to have the surgery.

People who are interested in learning more about this option or who have untreated incontinence or overactive bladder, should call Gifford’s urology team in Randolph at 728-2470 or White River Junction at 296-7370 to set up an appointment to discuss this and the many other treatment options available.

‘Aging Together’

Free Gifford evening out focuses on couples’ sexual health

Health experts from Gifford Medical Center are joining forces to offer couples an educational evening out.

Gifford in Randolph is hosting “Aging Together: A special presentation for couples on changing sexual health” on March 27 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center.

“Our goal,” says organizer Rebecca O’Berry, Gifford’s vice president of surgery, “is to have people come in to a comfortable environment to talk about how normal physical changes can affect couples’ lives together.”

Dr. Richard Graham

Dr. Richard Graham

Speaking will be experienced urologist Dr. Richard Graham and veteran gynecologist and menopause expert Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara.

Urologists treat male reproductive health conditions, as well as urinary health in men and women, and gynecologists care for female reproductive health. Common conditions like erectile dysfunction, which millions of men in the United States experience, and menopause, typically beginning around age 51 for women, can affect a couple’s relationship – often when those couples are finally able to spend time together.

“This is an important time in your life,” says O’Berry. “Your kids are getting older. You get to be back to being a couple and you don’t want normal signs of aging or medical problems to hinder that time together.

“There are ways that we as medical professionals can help you. There are answers.”

Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara

Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara

Drs. Graham and Russo-DeMara will review common problems and solutions and take questions from participants. Light refreshments will be served as the medical center strives to make the talk a fun “date night” out.

All are welcome to this free event. Those wanting to participate should register by calling Robin Palmer at (802) 728-2284 by March 21.

The Gifford Conference Center is on the first floor of the hospital. Take the elevator from the main lobby and follow signs to the conference center or take the stairs under the green awning from the patient parking lot. The conference rooms are just inside. For directions and more information, visit www.giffordmed.org. Like Gifford on Facebook to receive notices of other upcoming free community talks.

Free Men’s Health Talk Provides Expert Advice in Comfortable Setting

Gifford Medical Center general surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli

Gifford Medical Center general surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center general surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli and urologist Dr. Richard Graham will lead a free men’s health talk on June 6 on colorectal health, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction.

The talk will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center with free pizza and refreshments served at 5:30 p.m.

The talk aims to raise awareness of men’s health issues and preventable conditions, such as colon cancer, in a comfortable atmosphere, says Rebecca O’Berry, Gifford vice president of surgery.

“Both of our physicians are very approachable and personable and are able to find the humorous side of these topics,” O’Berry said. “I’m thrilled that we have two surgeons who are gifted, passionate, and so easy to talk to.”

Dr. Ciccarelli has been a general surgeon for more than 20 years, providing surgical care and colonoscopies at Gifford since 2007.

Colorectal cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States and Vermont.

Colorectal cancer develops from polyps that grow – silently, unseen and unfelt – on the inside wall of the colon. Many polyps will never become cancer, but some will over the years.

A colonoscopy can both detect and prevent colorectal cancer. This is because during a colonoscopy, these polyps are removed in their precancerous state or before disease can be felt, preventing the onset or the spread of the disease. And when found early, colorectal cancer is highly curable.

Without colonoscopies, it is not until polyps become cancerous, grow large, and block the colon or break through the colon wall that colon cancer symptoms are evident.

“This is one area of medicine where we can actually prevent disease, extend lives, and improve quality of life,” says Dr. Ciccarelli, who will also discuss other common colorectal health issues, such as diverticulosis, anal fissures, and hemorrhoids.

Dr. Richard Graham

Gifford’s new urologist, Dr. Richard Graham

A renowned urologist, Dr. Graham has been practicing urology for 28 years and has performed surgeries around the world. He joined Gifford’s urology practices in Randolph and at the Twin River Health Center in White River Junction last year, bringing new procedures to the hospital.

An urologist specializes in diseases of the male and female urinary tract as well as male reproductive organs. Dr. Graham will consequently talk about common male reproductive ailments, including prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction.

In Vermont, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death, according to the Vermont Department of Health. Nationally, about one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. The average age of diagnosis is 67.

Treatment for prostate cancer can sometimes cause erectile dysfunction, a condition that affects millions of men in the United States and can be a sign of more serious disease.

Dr. Graham will address how prostate cancer is diagnosed and treatment options, and what works for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. He’ll also discuss the controversy over PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood tests for men, when they should be performed, what they mean, and why doctors order the screening.

“It’s a serious subject,” Dr. Graham says of the talk that he has given around the world, “but it’s also interactive.”

The event is open to men of all ages and to couples. There is no cost to attend but registration is encouraged. Call 728-2104 by May 30 to sign-up.

Gifford is an American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer nationally accredited cancer program. The hospital is located at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12 south of the village) in Randolph. The Conference Center is on the first floor of the hospital and marked by a green awning. Learn more online at www.giffordmed.org.