Sacral neuromodulation (also known as Sacral Nerve Stimulation) is a procedure that involves placing a wire in the lower back, near the nerves that control the bladder and bowel. This wire delivers small electrical pulses and helps to improve problems with bladder and bowel function.
What are the alternatives?
Sacral nerve stimulation is only tried if these treatments are not effective. Other procedures that can be used instead:
It involves two separate operations, a few weeks apart.
A temporary stimulator is put in first, followed by a "trial phase" (typically 2-4 weeks), and then a second procedure to either implant the permanent stimulator or remove the temporary one, depending on the success of the trial
The first operation will be done under sedation or general anaesthetic (put to sleep):
• A tiny cut in your lower back and a second 3 - 4 cm cut in the upper buttock
• An electrode (wire) is placed near the nerves using X-rays to make sure it is in the correct place; the wire passes out through the skin at the side of the buttock
• The wire is then connected to a stimulator box outside the body
• the stimulator box sends electrical signals to the nerves and needs to be worn all the time
The second operation:
How long does the battery last?
The battery in the stimulator will run down eventually, usually after 3-7 years. Changing the battery is relatively simple, and involves a procedure very like the second stage of the original.
Sports and strenuous activities?
Due to the risk of damaging or dislodging the stimulator or the wire, advise not to take part in contact sports, extreme sports or horse-riding.
Security screening and airport scanning devices can affect the stimulator.
Show the security staff the stimulator identification card and they may allow by-pass the scanner. Alternatively, turn off the simulator before going through the scanner.
Can I go for MRI scanning?
Should not go in an MRI scanner (other than for a head scan) after the implant, although some newer devices are MRI-compatible.