What happens during Stage 2 of InterStim Surgery and Recovery

Remote for InterStim
Remote for InterStim | Source

InterStim-Sacral Nerve Stimulation has two stages. The first stage is the test stage and stage two is the permanent implant.

Stage 2 will take place if the person has a successful trial period. These trial periods can vary depending on how quickly the patient responds, or when your doctor can get you scheduled. Most in the US are 1-2 weeks but other countries have been known to go several weeks to a few months.

The second stage surgery is a fraction of the length of the stage 1 surgery. During stage 1, the doctor has to make the initial incision and place the leads. During stage 2, all the doctor has to do is add the implant to the already placed leads and it takes no time at all.

Recovery is rather quick. Stage 1 is a annoying, as you have to carry the leads and the battery pack around externally. Stage 2 is a lot easier as you have everything internal now and healing only takes 2-3 weeks.

What you will notice is that there is a lot of sensitivity for a few weeks on the incision area. The implant, just like heart pacemakers, is very superficial. You can feel it very easily and if you hit it, at all, it is very tender and hurts. This hurt does subside over just a few weeks.

In the beginning of stage 2, you can feel the impulse sensation, but after about a month you learn to ignore it and the sensation feeling goes away or can disappear completely.

The remote that comes with the implant (picture attached) has four settings. Unlike a heart pacemaker, you can adjust this yourself, as you see fit. Your doctor or Medtronic rep can add or change these settings if need be.

Rule of thumb is; if you cannot do it with a heart pacemaker, you cannot with an InterStim implant. You will not be able to get an MRI. If you become pregnant, you will have to turn it off during the pregnancy. Some have complained about walking through theft protectors and feeling an increased impulse, this is only about 1%.


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