InterStim® Therapy for Fecal Incontinence

Fecal incontinence, also known as bowel incontinence, is a condition in which a person has unexpected or is unable to control the release of fecal matter and mucus from the rectum. Symptoms can also include frequent, urgent bathroom use. An estimated 8.3 percent of U.S. adults suffer from fecal incontinence during their lives. The condition most commonly affects older women. Even though the issue is far from rare, many women feel too embarrassed to discuss their symptoms, even with their healthcare providers.

Yet, many options can help alleviate the symptoms of fecal incontinence, including a minimally invasive therapy called InterStim®. InterStim® is not just a coping technique or a bandaid; it stops fecal incontinence by reconnecting a patient’s mind and bowels for better control.

Causes Fecal Incontinence

The exact causes of fecal incontinence vary, and in order to properly determine the most effective fecal incontinence treatment, consulting a healthcare professional such as a urogynecologist is necessary. Fortunately, the issue sometimes requires only simple lifestyle changes to control.

Some of the most significant factors that may increase the likelihood of developing fecal incontinence include:

  • A pelvic floor dysfunction which has damaged the strength of the pelvic floor muscles
  • Chronic illness
  • Nervous system damage or disorders
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Urgency
  • Rectocele
  • Loss of elasticity in the rectum
  • Chronic Constipation
  • Damage to the muscles of the sphincter
  • Vaginal delivery during childbirth
  • Lack of physical activity


An FDA Approved Treatment: InterStim®

InterStim® Therapy (SNS) is an FDA-approved neurostimulation therapy that targets the communication problem between the brain and the nerves that control bowel function using a small, implantable neurotransmitter device.

InterStim® Treats Fecal Incontinence

InterStim® sends electrical impulses to stimulate the sacral nerve, located in the lower back just above the tailbone. The sacral nerve directly controls the signals sent between the brain and the bowels to manage bowel control and defecatory function. Stimulating the sacral nerve reduces and controls the impulses to evacuate.

Post Surgery Expectations

The InterStim® system requires a brief, minimally invasive surgical procedure to implant the device under the skin on an outpatient basis. Before implanting the permanent device, a trial lead is implanted for one to two weeks to test the patient’s response to the treatment. Once the therapy shows results, the permanent device is implanted and requires only a limited amount of monitoring each year.

Patients may experience soreness at the incision site and some discomfort as they adjust to the new stimulatory system. Most women are advised to reduce their activity level for two to three weeks. After the incision has healed, women can resume their normal routines.

How long does InterStim® treatment last?

The batteries in the InterStim® device last 10-15 years, depending on the device. 

Surgery Risks

InterStim® complications can include infection or on-going pain at the implant site. Technical issues, mechanical failure and movement of the lead are rare and usually easily corrected.

Control Fecal Incontinence

Depending on the cause of a woman’s fecal incontinence, non-surgical treatment options can include:

  • Pelvic floor dysfunction exercises
  • Training the bowel
  • Alterations to diet and nutrition
  • Increasing the amount of physical activity
  • Medication
  • Biofeedback

Why go to Coyle Institute for InterStim® Therapy?

Dr. Michael Coyle is a board-certified practitioner in female pelvic medicine and reproductive surgery with years of training and expertise in minimally invasive surgery. Dr. Coyle and his team at Coyle Institute are highly qualified to offer the innovative InterStim® system and have seen proven results. InterStim® Therapy offers Coyle Institute patients the chance to live a happier, healthier life.

Do not live with the unpredictable embarrassment of fecal incontinence! Call the expert team at Coyle Institute to schedule your consultation.