Interstim Therapy


Medtronic InterStim® System for Urinary Control is indicated for the treatment of urinary retention and the symptoms of overactive bladder, including urinary urge incontinence and significant symptoms of urgency-frequency alone or in combination, in patients who have failed or could not tolerate more conservative treatments.

InterStim Therapy uses a small device to send mild electrical pulses to a nerve located in the lower back (just above the tailbone). This nerve, called the sacral nerve, influences the bladder and surrounding muscles that manage urinary function. The electrical stimulation may eliminate or reduce certain bladder control symptoms in some people. The system is surgically placed under the skin.

What are the benefits of InterStim® Therapy?

InterStim® Therapy can eliminate or greatly reduce urinary symptoms for many people suffering from retention, urgency, frequency, and/or incontinence.

For instance, doctors have found that nearly half of patients with urge incontinence who received InterStim® Therapy were completely dry within six months of receiving the therapy.  Many patients have their symptoms reduced significantly. 

What is Bladder Dysfunction?

Bladder dysfunction can be defined as urgency, frequency, or retention.  These conditions may be accompanied by incontinence, which can make everyday life extremely uncomfortable. Incontinence can be characterized as the inability to control the involuntary need to urinate. With incontinence, people may complain that:

  • The urge is so strong that they leak before they are able to make it to the bathroom.
  • They are unable to control the urine from flowing.


This is a two-stage procedure. We have three staff urologists that perform this procedure.  Dr. Gilbert Dale, Dr. Robert Julian, or Dr. Paul Grewall will perform the first stage utilizing the staff and facilities at the Urology Associates of Central California Ambulatory Surgery Center. This stage consists of testing the patient and the device under careful observation for efficacy and tolerance.

Once it has been determined that the InterStim® Therapy is effective for the patient’s particular condition, the patient will be scheduled in a local hospital or at UACC for the complete implantation of the InterStim® device.

Voiding Diary

What is a Voiding Diary?

The voiding diary is used to track your bladder control symptoms for a few days. It will provide your doctor with valuable information.

You will be asked to:

  • Record information, such as how often and how much you urinate or experience symptoms before test stimulation.
  • Record how stimulation affects your symptoms during test stimulation.
  • Monitor any return of symptoms after test stimulation.

You may need to complete several diaries before, during, and after the test stimulation. It is important to complete the diary accurately in order to give your doctor a detailed picture of how the therapy works for you.

The diary is small enough to tuck into a purse or pocket so that you can carry it with you. Your doctor will instruct you further in the use of the diary.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m not sure if the stimulation is working. What should I do?

Check the battery and ON light to be sure the test stimulator is working. If it is, turn the amplitude dial to OFF and gradually turn it up to a comfortable setting. Call your doctor if you have any questions or are still unsure that the test stimulator is working.

What does the stimulation feel like?

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 you feel any pain, turn off the test stimulator and call your doctor.

Will the test stimulation cure my condition?

No. The test stimulation is temporary. It is a tool that helps determine whether InterStim® Therapy is appropriate for you. Once the test stimulation lead is removed, your original symptoms will return.

May I have sex during the test stimulation?

No. You should avoid sex. Sexual activity could cause the test stimulation lead to move. (Note: This precaution is not necessary following the permanent implantation of InterStim® Therapy.)

Your Follow-Up Visit

At the end of the test stimulation period, you should return for a scheduled visit with your doctor to:

  • Have the test stimulation lead removed.
  • Have your voiding diary reviewed.
  • Discuss the next step in treating your bladder control problem.

Surgery Center

{loadposition surgerymenu}

Skip to content