Sacral nerve stimulation is an advanced electrical stimulation procedure performed to treat urinary incontinence and other bladder control problems in patients who have not responded to more conservative treatment options. A neurotransmitter device placed under the skin of the upper buttocks will send electrical impulses to the sacral nerve, which controls the bladder, sphincter and pelvic floor muscles.
Benefits of Sacral Nerve Stimulation
The sacral nerve stimulation procedure is effective in treating the following symptoms of bladder and urinary difficulties:
While sacral nerve stimulation cannot cure these conditions, they can help to treat embarrassing and uncomfortable symptoms, which can help to improve the patient’s quality of life.
Sacral Nerve Stimulation Procedure
The neurotransmitter used for sacral nerve stimulation is implanted during an outpatient procedure that takes about 45 minutes to perform. There is usually a trial period of one to two weeks before implantation of the actual device to determine the effectiveness of stimulation. Patients may experience pain at the incision site for a few weeks, and may need to limit activity as the area heals. Follow-up appointments may be required throughout the first six months to fine-tune stimulation settings. The battery of the neurotransmitter will need to be replaced every three to five years.
Risks or Complications of Sacral Nerve Stimulation:
This treatment is considered safe for most patients, although there are some possible risks, which may include:
- Pain at the implant site
- Movement and technical problems with the device
Patients need to be aware that certain diagnostic tests, such as MRI, should not be performed while the device is implanted, even if the device’s battery is disabled. Radiation therapy and X-rays may affect the functioning of the device. Diathermy, an electrical therapy using radio or high frequency and microwaves to produce deep heating beneath the skin in the subcutaneous tissues, deep muscles and joints for therapeutic purposes, should not be performed on patients with an implanted device.