Pacemakers have been a common medical tool for decades. But now doctors are finding new uses for the technology, in the most unexpected of places, an Ottawa man's bladder.  

Pablo Coffey, 34, has survived a brain tumour and 30 rounds of radiation therapy.

Now, two years later, he's in line for a pacemaker — but not for his heart.

"Specifically I don't know where it's going. It’s kind of in the lower back area, so down in… right along the belt line," he said.

"My bladder and my brain lie to each other, and miscommunicate about when it's appropriately time to go to the washroom. On average I would attempt to go to the bathroom anywhere from 16 to 24 times a day


Dr. Eric Saltel and Pablo Coffey talk about Coffey's impending surgery to have a pacemaker implanted in his lower back. (CBC)

A stroke after his brain surgery caused neurological damage, and Coffey lost control of his bladder.

Conventional treatments haven't helped.

"Normally, we'd use medications to treat it, and it didn't help him. So the best case for him or one of the best options for him, was to look into this pacemaker, which he did," said Dr. Eric Saltel

The device is similar in shape and size to cardiac pacemakers. But it’s placed inside the lower back, near the bladder.

Coffey has already tested one outside his body, and it brought immediate relief.   

The technology has been around for decades, but it’s only been used on bladders since 2000. In fact Coffey is travelling to Toronto, where they only do a handful of these types of surgeries each year.

With surgery just weeks away, Dr. Saltel believes a giant weight will be lifted.

He told me himself that it's a large reduction in his quality of life, and that's what it’s about, to get him quality of life, so he can go play with his kids and have fun.

"I’m hoping that it will sort of be wiped off the plate, and I’ll be able to just go back to the way it was before," Coffey said.