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Sacral Nerve Stimulation
Sacral Nerve Stimulation for Urinary Control treats urinary retention (inability to completely empty the bladder) and the symptoms of overactive bladder, including urinary urge incontinence (leakage) and significant symptoms of urgency-frequency. It should be used after you have tried other treatments such as medications and behavioral therapy and they have not worked, or you could not tolerate them.
How it Works
This system works with the sacral nerves, located near the tailbone. The sacral nerves control the bladder and muscles related to urinary function.
It is believed that one possible cause of overactive bladder is miscommunication between the brain and the sacral nerves; when the brain and sacral nerves don't communicate correctly, the nerves will not tell the bladder to function correctly, which can cause bladder control problems. The theory is that gentle electrical stimulation of the sacral nerves reduces the signals to the nervous system which may be causing bladder control symptoms such as leaks, the sudden urge to go, or going too often.
With the therapy's two-step process, you can test it out to see if it will work for you before making a long-term commitment. The testing period is called the "trial assessment."
The evaluation starts with a short, minimally invasive outpatient procedure that can be done in your doctor's office or an outpatient center. It usually takes about 20 minutes.
For the basic evaluation, which uses a temporary lead, your doctor will numb a small area of your upper buttock and insert a thin wire near your sacral nerves, located near the tailbone. The lead is connected to a small, external neurostimulator that you'll wear on your waistband like a pager. The stimulator generates mild electrical pulses that are carried to the sacral nerve by the lead.
The length of the evaluation may vary among doctors and depends on the type of evaluation you undergo. Generally, if the temporary lead is used, the evaluation period lasts from 3 to 7 days, the evaluation period may last up to 14 days.
During the evaluation, you still have the freedom to do most of your regular daily activities. The treatment can be stopped, started, and adjusted using a controller. It's designed to be easy to use; your doctor or nurse can show you how.
During the evaluation, you will need to use a symptom tracker to write down your urinary symptoms, such as how many times you go to the bathroom and whether you have leaks. You should be able to work and continue your normal activities, as long as you avoid lifting, bending or twisting movements. If you experience a significant reduction in your symptoms, you and your doctor can discuss long-term next steps.