Sacral Neuromodulation and how it can alleviate bowel incontinence

Author: Medtronic

Date: Apr 2017

Bowel incontinence is defined as the inability to control bowel movements. It can cause feelings of embarrassment and can be debilitating meaning many will suffer in silence. Bowel control problems can have a major impact on your life, both physically and psychologically. Those living with bowel incontinence may experience feelings of depression, low self-esteem and a lack of confidence, which in turn can affect your working life as well as your personal relationships. The risk of leaking and the constant need to be near a bathroom can begin to dominate your thoughts, creating obstacles and barriers which may deter you from going out and getting involved in activities you used to enjoy.

Why might I have Bowel control problems?

Nerves carry information to and from the brain. Some nerves control the bowel and muscles that relate to defaecation. When the communication system between the nerves and the brain is not working properly, a person may have bowel problems such as faecal incontinence. There are treatments available which can help improve nerve activity and in turn alleviate the symptoms associated with some bowel control conditions. One of these treatments is called InterStim™ Therapy.

InterStim™ Therapy – What is it?

InterStim™ Therapy (also called sacral nerve stimulation or sacral neuromodulation) was developed in the early 1980s and was approved in Europe in 1994. InterStim™ Therapy helps to restore normal nerve activity so that you can defecate normally. The procedure involves implanting a small medical device which sends mild electrical pulses to a nerve located just above the tailbone. The InterStim™ system consists of:

  • An implantable nerostimulator (INS) which is like a pacemaker implanted under the skin.
  • An electrode or thin wire that carries the mild electrical pulses to the nerves controlling the bowel.
  • A hand-held patient programmer that enables you to adjust the level of the stimulation and allows you to turn your INS on or off.

In cases where this treatment is suitable it can eliminate or greatly reduce the symptoms for many people suffering from faecal incontinence. (For those living with urinary incontinence as well as bowel incontinence, InterStim™ Therapy can also be a potentially suitable form of treatment.)

Who can I talk to to find out if the treatment is suitable for me?

We are offering a free confidential nurse helpline/service which will give you the opportunity to speak with a specialist bowel nurse, either over the telephone or via email, so you can find out more about InterStim™ Therapy and whether it may be suitable for your incontinence problems.

If you are living with bowel control problems and you would like to speak to a nurse one to one from the comfort of your own home, please complete our short registration form by clicking on this link. Our specialist nurse will then contact you directly.

Information contained in this Articles page which doesn’t state it has been written by talkhealth, has been written by a third party, who has not paid to be on the talkhealth platform, and has been republished with their permission. talkhealth cannot vouch for or verify any claims made by the author, and we do not endorse any specific products, brands, or treatments mentioned. The content in our Articles pages should not be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine.

Last revised: 6 June 2017

Next review: 31 August 2018