Neuromodulation for Female Urinary Incontinence

Neuromodulation can help control bladder function in people with urgency incontinence who don’t respond to behavioral treatments or medications. In neuromodulation, NYU Langone doctors deliver electrical stimulation to the nerves that control the bladder’s function.

Posterior Tibial Nerve Stimulation

During a posterior tibial nerve stimulation, your NYU Langone doctor inserts a needle that is very fine, like those used in acupuncture, into the skin near the ankle to deliver low-voltage electrical impulses. Those impulses travel along the tibial nerve in the leg to the spinal nerves that control bladder function. 

These 30-minute treatments are given at NYU Langone’s Center for Female Pelvic Medicine once a week for 12 weeks. Because the device isn’t implanted into the body, you do not need surgery.

Sacral Neuromodulation

Doctors may recommend sacral neuromodulation for women with severe urgency incontinence that hasn’t responded to other treatments. In this procedure, a pacemaker-like device is surgically implanted in the fleshy part of the buttocks to stimulate the sacral nerves that affect bladder function. A thin wire extends from the device to the area near the sacral nerve to deliver low-voltage pulses. This helps reduce symptoms of urgency incontinence. 

The doctor first tests the nerve to see whether stimulation helps improve your urinary symptoms. If this three-day trial is successful, the surgery is performed at the hospital and usually requires sedation. 

The device’s battery life lasts about 5 years, and you need surgery to change the battery or implant a new device. 

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