Medtronic InterStim® Therapy helps control the symptoms of overactive bladder, non-obstructive urinary retention and chronic fecal incontinence through stimulation of the sacral nerves. InterStim Therapy uses an implantable system, consisting of a thin wire lead and a neurostimulator, or pacemaker-like device, as well as external clinician and patient programmers, to deliver mild electrical stimulation to the sacral nerves. The neurostimulator, about the size of a stopwatch, is implanted under the skin in the lower back near where the sacral nerves are located.

InterStim Therapy: Indications and Recommended Use

  • InterStim Therapy is indicated for the treatment of the symptoms of overactive bladder (urgency-frequency and urge incontinence), non-obstructive urinary retention and chronic fecal incontinence.
  • InterStim is recommended for patients with the symptoms of overactive bladder or chronic fecal incontinence who have failed or are not candidates for first-line treatments, such as dietary modifications, medications and surgery. 


  • For individuals who experience the symptoms of overactive bladder or urinary retention, InterStim Therapy may eliminate or greatly improve urinary-control symptoms. Many people treated with InterStim Therapy for overactive bladder also have reported improved quality of life
  • For people who struggle with symptoms of chronic fecal incontinence, InterStim Therapy for Bowel Control may improve bowel control. Clinical research has shown that sacral nerve stimulation reduces episodes of fecal incontinence and increases quality of life in patients with the condition.
  • Physicians and patients can assess the effectiveness of the therapy through test stimulation before committing to an implantation of the InterStim Therapy system for urinary control or bowel control.
  • Even after implantation, the treatment is reversible and can be discontinued at any time by turning off or surgically removing the device. 

Patients Who May Consider InterStim Therapy

  • Patients may consider InterStim Therapy under advisement from their physician when their bladder control or bowel control problems have affected their lifestyle to the point where they struggle with everyday activities such as traveling, going to the gym, or spending time with friends and family.
  • InterStim Therapy does not treat every type of bladder control or bowel control problem. It is not intended for patients with conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), cancer or urethral stricture, all of which may produce urinary symptoms due to an obstruction.
  • For more information on InterStim Therapy, please visit 

How InterStim Works

  • Treatment with InterStim Therapy involves three steps: test stimulation, a minimally invasive surgical implant, and ongoing post-implant follow-up appointments.
  • Test Stimulation: The test stimulation process begins with a simple in-office or outpatient procedure to place a thin wire, or lead, that stimulates the sacral nerves using an external stimulator. The patient typically wears the external stimulator for several days to determine if a patient is likely to benefit from InterStim Therapy
  • Surgical Implant: Following a successful trial, a different, long-term neurostimulator is implanted under the skin in the lower back area in a minimally invasive outpatient procedure. The physician then adjusts the stimulation settings to optimize the therapy for each patient. .
  • Post-Implant: Following the implant procedure, the patient can control the neurostimulation intensity within physician-set parameters using an external patient programmer that works like a remote control to turn the stimulation up and down or on and off. Follow-up examinations usually occur every six to 12 months to monitor the therapy’s effectiveness.

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