Sacral nerve stimulation / sacral neuromodulation

Sacral nerve stimulation, also called sacral neuromodulation, is an innovative method to treat fecal incontinence, weakness of the anal sphincter and the chronic functional obstipation/obstructed defecation syndrome. During this therapy (Interstim®), the sacral nerves that control the function of the bladder and the rectum are stimulated by weak electrical impulses in order to restore their control.

Sacral neuromodulation is based on the mechanism of a pacemaker and is carried out by a reliable and established technology.

Prinzip der sakralen Neuromodulation (© Medtronic)

Principle of sacral neuromodulation (© Medtronic)

When is sacral nerve stimulation / neuromodulation indicated?

Which conditions indicate sacral nerve stimulation/sacral neuromodulation?

Sacral nerve stimulation is indicated to treat fecal incontinence and weakness of the anal sphincter: affected patients are under pressure because they are not able to control or delay passing stool or even pass it involuntarily.
It is also indicated to treat chronic functional obstipation/obstructed defecation syndrome and urinary retention/ischuria and combined bladder/rectal disorders, e.g., of neurological origin.

When is sacral nerve stimulation/sacral neuromodulation used?

If common therapy option are not successful, sacral neuromodulation can restore patients´ quality of life.

How is sacral nerve stimulation / neuromodulation surgery carried out?

During sacral nerve stimulation surgery, a thin electrode is placed on sacral nerves (peripheral nerves, not spinal cord) within the area of the sacral bone/sacrum. A neuromodulation system emits weak electrical impulses via the electrode to help control the function of the rectum and the bladder.

Sacral neuromodulation surgery only lasts about 45-60 minutes and requires anesthesia and a short hospitalization. The hospitalization is necessary to adjust the pelvic floor pacemaker that is carried on the skin during a test phase of 2-4 weeks. Testing this treatment option is a special advantage because you can evaluate its effectiveness.

The definite implantation of the system (normally into the fat tissue of the upper buttocks) is performed after the test phase. Your physician can adjust its parameters at any time externally with a control unit. The average battery lasts about 7 years, but this depends on the parameters of sacral nerve stimulation. If the battery is discharged, it can be replaced during a small operation.

Schemazeichnung der Elektroden-Implantation (© Medtronic)

Chances of success sacral nerve stimulation / neuromodulation

What are the chances of success of the sacral nerve stimulation/sacral neuromodulation?

Over 100,000 patients have been treated with sacral neuromodulation worldwide. Studies show that 70-80% of the patients benefit from sacral nerve stimulation permanently.