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For help finding a Colon and Rectal Surgeon, visit our online physician finder or call our Access Line at 877-CAPECOD.

Interstim® for Fecal Incontinence

This new minimally invasive treatment option is recommended for patients with chronic fecal incontinence and who failed or could not tolerate more conservative treatments. The reversible procedure uses the InterStim®, small implanted neurostimulator device that sends mild electrical pulses to the sacral nerves, which control the function of the bladder and bowels, to decrease symptoms of incontinence.

How does it work?

Treatment with the InterStim system involves three steps: evaluation, a minimally invasive surgical implant, and ongoing post-implant follow-up appointments.

Evaluation

Beginning with an in-office or outpatient procedure, your doctor will to place a lead (thin wire) near the tailbone, which is taped to the skin and connected to a small external device that sends mild electrical pulses to the sacral nerves using an external stimulator. The external stimulator is typically worn for several days to determine if the patient is likely to benefit from InterStim therapy.

Outpatient Surgical Implant

Following a successful trial, the InterStim system is implanted under the skin during a minimally invasive procedure. The InterStim system then delivers mild electrical pulses to stimulate the sacral nerves and help manage bladder and bowel incontinence symptoms.

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.

What are the benefits?

Studies have demonstrated superior efficacy and increased quality of life as a result of receiving InterStim therapy. Major benefits include.

  • Significant (50 percent or greater) reduction in overactive bladder symptoms.
  • Total or significantly improved bowel control; 41 percent of patients were found to achieve complete bowel continence
  • Significantly improved quality of life and ability to participate in normal activities of daily living.
  • Unlike other surgical treatment options, physicians and patients can assess the effectiveness of the therapy with an evaluation that enables a patient to experience how the therapy feels and evaluate symptom relief prior to going forward with the procedure.
  • Even after implantation, the treatment is reversible and can be discontinued at any time by turning off or surgically removing the device.

Most private insurance companies and Medicare cover the InterStim system.

What are the risks?

Like any surgical procedure, InterStim therapy has similar risks such as swelling, bruising, bleeding, and infection. Neurostimulation may also cause some of the following side effects:

  • Pain at the implant site
  • New pain
  • Infection
  • Lead (thin wire) movement/migration
  • Device problems
  • Interactions with certain other devices or diagnostic equipment, such as MRI
  • Undesirable changes in urinary or bowel function
  • Uncomfortable stimulation (sometimes described as a jolting or shocking feeling)

How do I know if I qualify?

InterStim therapy should be considered after patients have tried other treatments such as medications and dietary modifications and they have not worked, or they are not a candidate for these treatments. Interested candidates are encouraged to contact Cape Cod via the Access Line at 877-CAPECOD or email us today.