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Living with an InterStim™ System

Bowel Incontinence

You may be able to do things you were not able to do before receiving Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy (Sacral Neuromodulation delivered through the InterStim™ System) – take long walks through the park, see movies at the theatre, or travel. While it may take a while to adjust to the therapy, you should feel comfortable participating in the daily activities of living.

Remember: Even after you’ve made a full recovery from surgery and resumed your normal routine, it’s important to stay in touch with your doctor about any questions or concerns you have.

When to Call Your Doctor

Your doctor and his or her team should be your first point of contact. After you’ve healed from the long-term InterStim™ System implant procedure, there may be instances where you may feel the need to talk with your doctor or nurse.

If at any time you find stimulation bothersome, use your patient programmer to turn the neurostimulation down or off. Tell your doctor if you experience any significant or recurring problems.

Product Support

As a medical device manufacturer, Medtronic can offer technical assistance when you have questions about or problems with your InterStim™ System; however, Medtronic is not able to comment on your medical condition. For assistance with the use of your device or programmer, please contact the Medtronic Technical Support Helpline on 01923 205101. Their hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Common Concerns

Some people report feeling worried because they don’t feel stimulation all the time. If this is a concern of yours, please speak to your doctor.  In addition, quick movements or a change in posture may move the implanted lead closer to your sacral nerve. This can feel like an unexpected change in stimulation sensation even though the stimulation level has not changed. If you are not receiving adequate symptom relief, contact your doctor.

Depending on your programmed settings, you might not feel a sensation. It's important to base the effectiveness of the therapy on your symptoms, not whether or not you feel a sensation.

If you have questions about your Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy, if you are not receiving adequate symptom relief, or if your bowel incontinence symptoms return, call your doctor.

having an MRI Head Scan

When following specific guidelines from Medtronic, MRI technologists can safely perform an MRI head scan on people with an implanted InterStim™ II system and specific InterStim™ I systems. Full-body MRI scans may result in severe injury to you or damage to your device.

If a doctor requests an MRI head scan for you, inform the doctor and MRI technicians that you have an implanted device prior to your MRI examination appointment. Full MRI safety information is available for your doctor or MRI technician at www.medtronic.com/mri or by calling the Medtronic Technical Support Helpline on 01923 205101.

Programming Your Therapy

You can use your Medtronic iCon™ patient programmer to adjust stimulation. The amount of stimulation is under your control. Stimulation varies from person to person, but most people describe it as a slight “pulling” or “tingling” sensation in the pelvic area. It should not be painful. If stimulation becomes painful, turn the stimulation down or turn the neurostimulator OFF and call your doctor.

  • Your neurostimulator must remain on in order for therapy to be delivered.
  • Turn your neurostimulator OFF when having certain medical or dental procedures, when going through theft detectors and security screening devices, or when using potentially dangerous equipment.
  • Keep your programmer with you at all times. Be sure to bring it to all programming sessions.

View all programmer videos on YouTube

Always Carry Your Patient Programmer

Because your patient programmer is the only way to turn your neurostimulator on or off or adjust the stimulation, you should always carry it with you. In particular, always bring your patient programmer with you to InterStim™ Therapy appointments. For your programmer to be fully functional, your clinician needs to “bond” it electronically to the neurostimulator with the clinician programmer.

In addition, always bring your patient programmer to appointments with other healthcare providers. During certain procedures, you may need to turn your neurostimulator off.

Your Patient Identification Card

Carry your patient ID card with you in your wallet or purse. It shows that you have an implanted medical device in case of any emergency, and you will need it when going through security at airports.

If you move, change doctors, or lose your card, you can call the Medtronic Technical Support Helpline on 01923 205101 to update your information or request a replacement card.


Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.