What is sacral nerve stimulation?
Sacral nerve stimulation is the use of gentle electrical pulses just below the skin over the sacrum. This is where the sacral nerves are. The pulse comes from a device the size of a silver dollar. The unit is put just under the skin and does not limit your activities.
UI Health Care uses the InterStim™ sacral nerve stimulation system.
Why does sacral nerve stimulation work?
Bladder infections, childbirth, hysterectomies, bowel and bladder surgeries, back surgeries, genetics, or other pelvic events can affect the nerves. This can cause:
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Urinary or bowel incontinence
- Inability to drain the bladder
- Pelvic pain
The mild stimulation given by InterStim™ can fix the nerve signals and help these problems.
Is sacral nerve stimulation safe?
InterStim is put under the skin. It gives a pulse through a small lead wire. The wire does not touch the nerves or the spine. No patient has had a nonreversible health problem because of this. It can be stopped at any time.
Stage 1: Test stimulation
Before a permanent InterStim™ device is put in, a test stimulation is done. This is done with local anesthesia and sedation. It is an outpatient procedure.
The lead wire is put under the skin where the sacral nerves are. It is taped to your skin. This wire is attached to an external device. You will wear this on your belt for two weeks. During this time, you will be slightly limited in your activity and showering. You will need to keep voiding diaries before and during the test.
Keep a voiding diary for three days before the test.
Do not take aspirin or blood thinners for seven days before the test.
Do not eat after midnight the night before the test.
- Keep a voiding diary.
- Take the prescribed antibiotics.
- Take Tylenol or other pain medicine as needed.
- You may shower after 24 hours. Do not soak in a tub.
Stage 2: Removal of test lead or placement of in-dwelling stimulator
After 14 days you will return to the hospital. You will need to bring your voiding diaries.
Your doctor will review the diaries and talk about the results with you and your family. If the InterStim™ test worked, you can get a permanent lead and battery implant. The battery is put in the fatty part of the butt and hooked up to the wire.
After the procedure, you can shower in 24 hours. You can start normal activities in one to two weeks.
After the procedure, you will need to come back to the office to check the system. The system will be fine-tuned, if needed. This can be done through your clothing.
You will be seen every six months.
If symptoms are not controlled, you should be seen in the office sooner. With normal use, the battery should last three to five years.