How Does a Sacral Nerve Stimulator Work?

How Does a Sacral Nerve Stimulator Work?

by | Jun 13, 2024 | Medical

A sacral nerve stimulator is a medical device designed to manage certain chronic conditions by modulating the activity of the sacral nerves, which play a crucial role in controlling functions such as bladder and bowel control, as well as pelvic floor function. This innovative treatment approach offers hope to individuals suffering from conditions such as urinary and fecal incontinence, pelvic pain, and certain types of pelvic floor dysfunction. By targeting the sacral nerves with electrical impulses, sacral nerve stimulation aims to restore normal nerve function and improve symptoms, ultimately enhancing patients’ quality of life.

What is a Sacral Nerve Stimulator?

A sacral nerve stimulator is a small, implantable device that delivers electrical impulses to the sacral nerves, located near the base of the spine. The device consists of a pulse generator, which is typically implanted under the skin in the upper buttock or lower abdomen, and one or more leads that deliver electrical stimulation to the sacral nerves. The electrical impulses generated by the device modulate the activity of the sacral nerves, helping to regulate bladder and bowel function, reduce pelvic pain, and improve pelvic floor muscle control.

Mechanism of Action

The mechanism of action of a sacral nerve stimulator involves targeting the sacral nerves, which are part of the autonomic nervous system responsible for regulating involuntary bodily functions. By delivering electrical impulses to specific sacral nerve roots, the stimulator can modulate nerve activity, inhibit abnormal signals that contribute to symptoms such as incontinence or pelvic pain, and restore more normal function. This neuromodulation effect helps to improve bladder and bowel control, reduce urinary and fecal incontinence episodes, and alleviate pelvic pain in individuals with certain medical conditions.

Indications for Use

Sacral nerve stimulation is primarily used to treat conditions affecting bladder and bowel function, as well as pelvic floor dysfunction. It may be recommended for individuals with urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, overactive bladder syndrome, interstitial cystitis, chronic pelvic pain, or certain types of pelvic floor disorders. Candidates for sacral nerve stimulation typically undergo a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare provider to determine if they are suitable candidates for the procedure based on their specific diagnosis, symptoms, and medical history.

Implantation Procedure

The implantation of a sacral nerve stimulator involves a surgical procedure performed under local or general anesthesia. During the procedure, the pulse generator is implanted under the skin in the buttock or abdomen, and one or more leads are placed near the sacral nerves using minimally invasive techniques. Once implanted, the device is programmed to deliver electrical impulses at specific frequencies and intensities tailored to the individual’s needs. Following implantation, patients may undergo a trial period to assess the effectiveness of sacral nerve stimulation in relieving symptoms before the device is permanently implanted.

Benefits and Efficacy

Sacral nerve stimulation offers several potential benefits for individuals with bladder and bowel disorders, pelvic pain, and pelvic floor dysfunction. Clinical studies have demonstrated that sacral nerve stimulation can significantly improve symptoms such as urinary and fecal incontinence, frequency, urgency, and pelvic pain in many patients who have not responded to conservative treatments. Additionally, sacral nerve stimulation is reversible and adjustable, allowing for personalized treatment based on individual response and changing needs over time.

Risks and Considerations

While sacral nerve stimulation is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, it is not without risks. Potential complications associated with the procedure include infection, lead migration, device malfunction, and discomfort at the implant site. Additionally, not all patients may experience significant symptom improvement with sacral nerve stimulation, and some individuals may require additional treatments or alternative interventions to achieve satisfactory outcomes. Patients considering sacral nerve stimulation should discuss the potential risks and benefits with their healthcare provider to make an informed decision about treatment.


The Center for Colorectal Disease of Arizona stands as a beacon of hope and healing for those grappling with colorectal issues. Through its innovative approaches, compassionate care, and commitment to excellence, it has emerged as a cornerstone in the field of colorectal medicine. With a multidisciplinary team of experts, state-of-the-art facilities, and a patient-centric approach, the center not only provides top-notch treatment but also fosters a supportive environment where patients feel understood and empowered.

As a testament to its dedication to advancing medical science, the center offers cutting-edge treatments like Sacral Nerve Stimulation (SNS). SNS, a revolutionary therapy for managing fecal incontinence and certain forms of constipation, operates by modulating the nerves that control bowel function. Through the implantation of a small device, SNS delivers electrical impulses to the sacral nerves, effectively regulating bowel movements and restoring quality of life for many patients.

The Center for Colorectal Disease of Arizona stands at the forefront of medical innovation, transforming the landscape of colorectal care. Its holistic approach, coupled with groundbreaking treatments like SNS, underscores its unwavering commitment to improving patient outcomes and redefining standards of excellence in colorectal medicine. As it continues to pioneer new frontiers and redefine possibilities, the center remains a beacon of hope for those navigating the challenges of colorectal disease.