Sacral Nerve Stimulation

The Interstim® neuromodulation (Sacral nerve stimulation) device is a unique innovation in the treatment of bladder dysfunction. By providing an electronic impulse to the irregular firing of the nerves to the bladder it can improve incontinence as well as restoring normal emptying to a non-emptying bladder.

It consists of three components:

  • Lead – this is a fine wire, containing four separate electrodes, that can each be stimulated individually or in various combination to tailor the neuromodulation to your individual needs.
  • Pulse generator – this is the small “battery” that drives the system. It generally needs replacement every 6-7 years.
  • Programmer – this is the small remote control (like the one for your TV) that allows you to adjust the InterStim device yourself.

  • You will receive a full general anaesthetic.
  • You will not be paralysed.
  • You will be placed in the prone (face-down) position.
  • You will be given intravenous antibiotics before and after the procedure.
  • You will have a small incisions made in your lower back.
  • A second incision is made just above your buttock.
  • The correct position of the electrode will be confirmed by X-ray and test stimulation.

Side Effects

All operations have the potential for side-effects. Most people do not experience any (< 10% of patients actually do), though it is good to be aware of what they might be:

  • Occasional - < 10%
  • Burning or blood when you pass urine - usually settles in a few days.
  • Temporary insertion of catheter.
  • Mechanical failure.
  • Infection.
  • Uncommon - < 5%
  • Wound infection.
  • Rare - < 1%
  • Urine infection.

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