InterStim for Overactive Bladder FAQs

Important Safety Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Medtronic Bladder Control Therapy delivered by the InterStim system?

A: This therapy targets the nerves that control your bladder to help it function normally again.

Q: How does it work?

A: Medtronic Bladder Control Therapy delivered by the InterStim™ system restores* bladder function by gently stimulating the sacral nerves.

Q: Why does it treat the sacral nerves?

A: It's thought that bladder control problems are caused by miscommunication between the brain and the sacral nerves, which control the bladder and muscles involved in urination.1

Q: What are the benefits of this therapy?

A: With this therapy, you may experience fewer trips to the bathroom, fewer accidents, and more confidence as you get back to the activities you enjoy.2

Q: What are the potential side effects or complications?

A: In addition to risks related to surgery, complications can include pain at the implant sites, new pain, infection, lead (thin wire) movement/migration, device problems, undesirable changes in urinary or bowel function, and uncomfortable stimulation (sometimes described as a jolting or shocking feeling).Talk with your doctor about ways to minimize these risks.

Q: Why is this therapy different from other options?

A: You can try it before you decide, and it’s reversible if you change your mind later. It is clinically superior to oral medication.†,2-4 And unlike injections, it doesn’t require self-catheterization or repeated treatment visits.

Q: How long does the relief last?

A: This therapy significantly reduced symptoms of OAB and non-obstructive urinary retention in people treated for 5 years.†,5,6 Your experience may be different.

Q: Will this therapy cure my condition?

A: No. It can be effective, but it's not a cure. If the neurostimulator is turned off or removed, symptoms can return.

Q: What does the stimulation feel like?

A: Most people describe it as a slight pulling, tingling, or fluttering sensation in the pelvic area. It should not be painful. Stimulation settings can be adjusted, and sensations will vary from person to person.

Q: Can I get an MRI when I receive this therapy?

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

Q: Will insurance cover the costs?

A: Medicare and many private insurance companies cover this therapy. Talk to your doctor to learn more about your insurance coverage.

Q: How long has this therapy been around?

A: Since its approval in 1997, InterStim therapy has been used to treat bladder control problems in hundreds of thousands of patients around the world.


* With the InterStim system, restored bladder function is defined as a 50% or greater reduction in your troublesome bladder symptoms.


† The most common adverse events experienced during clinical studies included pain at implant sites, new pain, lead migration, infection, technical or device problems, adverse change in bowel or voiding function, and undesirable stimulation or sensations. Any of these may require additional surgery or cause return of symptoms.


1. Leng WW, Morrisroe SN. Sacral nerve stimulation for the overactive bladder. Urol Clin N Am. 2006;33:491-501.
2. Siegel S, Noblett K, Mangel J, et al. Results of a prospective, randomized, multicenter study evaluating sacral neuromodulation with InterStim® Therapy compared to standard medical therapy at 6-months in subjects with mild symptoms of overactive bladder. Neurourol Urodyn. 2015;34:224–230. DOI: 10.1002/nau.22544
3. Visco AG, Brubaker L, Richter HE, et al. N Engl J Med. 2012;367(19):1803-1813.
4. Peters KM, MacDiarmid SA, Wooldridge LS, et al. J Urol. 2009;182(3):1055-1061.
5. Siegel S, Noblett K, Mangel J, et al. Five-Year Follow-up Results of a Prospective, Multicenter Study of Patients with Overactive Bladder Treated with Sacral Neuromodulation. The Journal of Urology 2018;Volume 199(1), 229 – 236.
6. Medtronic-sponsored research. InterStim Therapy Clinical Summary, 2018.

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.

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