Medtronic Sacral Neuromodulation with the InterStim System for Bladder and Bowel Control


Often those who suffer from bladder and bowel control issues try to hide the condition out of shame or embarrassment. As a result, they suffer in silence and can often become isolated from friends and family and are reluctant to seek medical attention. The good news is these conditions are highly treatable with Medtronic Sacral Neuromodulation, with the InterStim System.

The InterStim system, the world’s first sacral neuromodulation therapy, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of urinary urge incontinence in 1997, and is now used for both urinary control and bowel control in many geographies, including the United States, throughout Europe, Canada and Australia. To date, more than 125,000 people have received InterStim Therapy worldwide.

How the InterStim System Works

Treatment with the InterStim system involves three steps: evaluation, a minimally invasive surgical implant, and ongoing post-implant follow-up appointments.

Evaluation: The test stimulation process begins with an in-office or outpatient procedure to place a lead (thin wire) near the tailbone, which is taped to the skin and connected to a small external device that sends mild electrical pulses to the sacral nerves using an external stimulator. The patient typically wears the external stimulator for several days to determine if he/she is likely to benefit from InterStim Therapy.

Outpatient Surgical Implant: Following a successful trial, the InterStim system is implanted under the skin during a minimally invasive procedure. The InterStim system consists of a thin wire lead and a neurostimulator, or pacemaker-like device, as well as external clinician and patient programmers. The neurostimulator, about the size of a stopwatch, is implanted under the skin in a minimally invasive outpatient procedure in the upper buttock near the sacral nerves, which are involved in the control of bladder function. The InterStim system then delivers mild electrical pulses to stimulate the sacral nerves and help manage bladder and bowel incontinence symptoms.

What happens next?

Post-Implant: Following the implant procedure, the patient can control the neurostimulation intensity within physician-set parameters using an external patient programmer that works like a remote control to turn the stimulation up and down or on and off. Follow-up examinations usually occur every six to 12 months.
Individual results with this therapy may vary, and it is not for everyone.