Treatment for Fecal Incontinence: Medtronic InterStimⓇ Therapy

What is incontinence and how does it occur?

Most people feel more than a bit uneasy when they consider talking to their friends, family, and doctor about fecal incontinence.  If you suffer from the inability to control your bowel movements, you are not alone.  This condition affects millions of people.


Fecal incontinence prevents you from controlling your bowel movements.  You may experience unexpected leaks, or use the bathroom very frequently.  Some people experience a combination of these symptoms.


Fecal incontinence is usually an acquired disorder.  It may be caused by:

  • Obstetrical injury from pregnancy or childbirth
  • Stroke or advanced age
  • Nerve or muscular damage caused by surgery or injury
  • Conditions that affect the nerves, such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome
  • Congenital disorders

Some people may suffer from fecal incontinence due to not being able to sense a bowel movement, while others are able to sense a bowel movement but can’t hold it until they get to a bathroom.

What is InterStim therapy?

Medtronic InterStim system is a FDA-approved therapy that targets the communication problem between the brain and the nerves that control bowel function.

How does InterStim evaluation work?

The evaluation, also known as the “trial assessment” lets you try Medtronic InterStim Therapy to see if it’s right for you without making a long-term commitment.  The evaluation will take 5-7 days to complete.

  • Your doctor will implant a thin, flexible wire (also known as a “lead” and pronounced leed) near your tailbone.  The wire is taped to your skin and connected to a small external device which you’ll wear on your waistband.
  • The external device sends mild electronic pulse through the wire to nerves near your tailbone.  The stimulation may get your bowels working the way it is supposed to.
  • After 5-7 days you return to our office and we remove the trial device.

What is the next step?

If your Trial was successful you will be referred to an Urologist for permanent placement.