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Getting Medtronic bowel control therapy

Bowel incontinence

Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy (Sacral Neuromodulation delivered through the InterStim™ System) is designed to minimize the symptoms of chronic bowel incontinence, including the leakage of liquid or solid stools. Sacral neuromodulation may be a good option for people who have not had success with, or are not candidates for, more conservative treatments.

Is it right for you? Test it first

The evaluation, also known as the "trial assessment," lets you try Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy to see if it is right for you without making a long-term commitment. The evaluation may take a few to several days to complete.

How the evaluation works

Here’s how it works:

  • Your doctor will implant a thin, flexible wire (also known as a "lead," and pronounced "leed") near your tailbone. The wire is taped to your skin and connected to a small external device which you’ll wear on your waistband.
  • The external device sends mild electrical pulses through the wire to nerves near your tailbone. The stimulation may get your bowel working the way it is supposed to.

During the evaluation, you can continue many of your low- to moderate-level daily activities with caution. You can usually continue to work throughout the evaluation period if your job doesn’t require strenuous movement.

Complications can occur with the evaluation, including movement of the wire, technical problems with the device, and some temporary pain.

You’ll be asked to document your symptoms. The evaluation will help your doctor determine the next course of treatment for your bowel control problems.

Your doctor or nurse will give you information about operating the test stimulator. He or she will also tell you about any precautions or activity restrictions related to the evaluation.

The results of Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy vary from person to person. This treatment option is not a cure for bowel control problems; however, it may help relieve your symptoms.

Your healthcare team

As you begin the journey to diagnose and treat bowel incontinence, you may meet a variety of medical professionals dedicated to giving you their best possible care. It’s important to be open and up-front with your health-care providers about your symptoms, lifestyle, and treatment concerns.


Gastroenterologists specialize in diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts, and liver. These experts are often responsible for research involving gastrointestinal procedures and interpreting research results.

Colorectal surgeon

Colorectal surgeons are experts in both surgical and non-surgical treatment of colon, rectum, anus, and small bowel problems. They treat benign and malignant conditions, conduct routine screening examinations, and perform surgery when necessary.


Gynecologists specialize in women's general health, including care of reproductive organs, breasts, sexual function, and hormonal disorders. Gynecologists also treat pelvic organ and pelvic floor problems.


Urogynecologists specialize in diseases of the female urinary tract and pelvic reconstructive surgery. They also treat bowel problems, including bowel incontinence.


Urologists are surgeons who specialize in diseases of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs. Some urologists have specific experience in the treatment of incontinence.

Nurse, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant

A nurse, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant typically works closely with your doctor. He or she may answer questions, and advise you on treatments such as Kegel exercises, diet modification, or physical therapy.

Physical therapist

Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy to strengthen the muscles in your pelvic floor. Pelvic floor rehabilitation may include pelvic floor stimulation and biofeedback-guided pelvic floor exercises, used alone or in combination.

Insurance coverage/Cost

Coverage will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Your physician will submit a coverage request to your insurance company on your behalf prior to the evaluation to determine if you are eligible for coverage.

Approval process

Typically, your doctor will work with you to get prior approval from your insurance company. He or she will send a letter of medical necessity explaining why Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy is right for you and confirming that more conservative treatments have been unsuccessful.

Sometimes insurance companies are unfamiliar with Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy (Sacral Neuromodulation) or the InterStim™ System, and may turn down your initial request. Don’t be alarmed if this happens to you. Often, sending more information as part of an appeal can be helpful.

Questions and answers

Find answers to commonly asked questions about Medtronic bowel control therapy and the InterStim™ system.

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Will my everyday activities be affected during the evaluation?

Will the evaluation cure my condition?

What does sacral neuromodulation feel like?

What are the risks of the evaluation?

What is the next step after the evaluation?

What are the risks of long-term therapy with the InterStim™ system?

Will insurance cover the costs?


Duelund-Jakobsen, Jakob MD; Buntzen, Steen MD, DMSc; Lundby, Lilli MD, PhD; Laurberg, Søren MD, DMSc. Sacral Nerve Stimulation at Subsensory Threshold Does Not Compromise Treatment Efficacy: Results From a Randomized, Blinded Crossover Study. Annals of Surgery 257(2):p 219-223, February 2013. | DOI: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e318269d493

Medical disclaimer

Information contained herein is not medical advice and should not be used as an alternative to speaking with your doctor. Discuss indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, adverse events and any further information with your health care professional.