What is sacral neurostimulation?

Sacral neurostimulation is a reversible treatment that uses a small device to gently electronically stimulate nerves controlling the bladder. When stimulated, bladder control issues can be improved or eliminated in some patients.

How is it done?

The sacral neurostimulator procedure is done in steps or stages. Before anything permanent is placed inside your body, a temporary test is performed to ensure there will be a response to a more permanent device placement. There is nothing permanent about the test to see if you are a candidate for sacral neurostimulation.

How does neurostimulation work?

Overactive bladder is a nerve problem between the bladder and the brain. Typically, the brain can tell the bladder to hold urine normally. Some people have a disconnect between the brain and bladder which causes urinary frequency, urgency, or leakage. Neurostimulation sends a small electrical pulse to help control these symptoms.

Stage 1 is designed to ensure that a sacral neurostimulator will help your urinary symptoms. Essentially, this lets you try it first with an evaluation. Typically, the first step is done without the need for any sedation or anesthesia. You will lie facedown so your urologist can identify the area on the back where the small wires will be placed. Using local anesthesia, tiny wires are placed in the upper buttock alongside the nerve that controls the bladder. An electrical pulse is then passed through the wire. Following placement, you will be instructed how to take care of the temporary device and asked to keep a diary of urination symptoms over the next 5 to 7 days.

Five to seven days after wire placement, the wires will be removed in the office by your urologist. If there is improvement in your urinary symptoms after the Stage 1 test, you may move forward with a Stage 2 sacral neurostimulator placement. In this stage, a battery and more permanent wire is placed under light sedation. The device is completely hidden under your skin and is the size of a silver dollar. Following the implantation of the device, you will be taught how to control the settings of the device in ensure improvement in urinary issues.

Urology of St. Louis physicians have the most experience in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area with sacral neurostimulation for overactive bladder and incomplete bladder emptying. If your symptoms of urinary urgency, frequency, or incontinence are not controlled with medication, make an appointment with one of our dedicated subspecialists to see if you are a candidate.

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If you are interested in sacral neurostimulation therapy for overactive bladder in St. Louis, contact one of our experts with extensive experience.