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Questions and Answers - Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy

Bowel Incontinence

What is Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy?

Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy (Sacral Neuromodulation delivered through the InterStim™ System) is an option for managing the symptoms of chronic bowel incontinence for people who have not found success with, or are not candidates for, more conservative treatments.

Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy uses an implantable system, similar to a pacemaker, that sends mild electrical pulses to the sacral nerves. The therapy is reversible by turning off or surgically removing the neurostimulator.

Sacral neuromodulation may help you resume normal activities and avoid frustrating experiences associated with chronic bowel incontinence.

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What do nerves have to do with bowel control?

The sacral nerves are involved in the control of bowel function. A breakdown of communication between the sacral nerves and the brain can lead to bowel control problems.

Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy works with the sacral nerves, located near the tailbone. If the brain and sacral nerves don’t communicate correctly, the nerves can’t help the bowel work properly. This communication problem can lead to symptoms of bowel incontinence. Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy targets these symptoms by modulating the sacral nerves with mild electrical pulses.

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What are the potential risks or complications of Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy?

The InterStim™ System has risks similar to any surgical procedure, including swelling, bruising, and bleeding. Complications can include pain at the implant site, new pain, infection, lead (thin wire) movement, technical or device problems, undesirable changes in urinary or bowel function, and uncomfortable stimulation. Any of these situations may require additional surgery or cause your symptoms to return. Always discuss the potential risks and benefits of the therapy with your doctor.

See Important Safety Information for possible adverse events.

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What are the benefits of Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy?

Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy may reduce symptoms for many people who suffer from bowel incontinence. Benefits include improved quality of life and reduction in accidents. In addition, the therapy can be discontinued at any time by turning off or surgically removing the device.

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Can I have an MRI when I have an InterStim System?

Getting an MRI head scan may be possible under specific conditions. For more information, talk with your doctor.

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Where can I learn more about Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy?

If you are considering Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy as a treatment option, you can contact the Medtronic Technical Support Helpline on 01923 205101. 

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.