Focus of the Report: This report focuses on sacral nerve stimulation (SNS) for non-obstructive urinary retention (NOUR). The goal of this treatment is to improve bladder emptying.

Technology Description: SNS relies on implantation of a programmable device that applies low-level electric current to improve control of the nerves, muscles, and reflexes affecting bladder emptying. Typically an outpatient procedure, patients first undergo percutaneous insertion of SNS device electrodes as a trial run, and those patients who demonstrate an adequate response undergo permanent surgical implantation of the pulse generator.

Controversy: Sacral neurostimulation requires surgery to implant a stimulator, its mechanism of action is not entirely understood, and it does not always provide complete relief of NOUR.

Key Questions:

  • Does SNS improve bladder emptying in patients who have NOUR that has not responded adequately to conservative treatment?

  • How does SNS compare with clinical alternatives for the treatment of NOUR?

  • Is SNS associated with any safety issues in patients who have NOUR?

  • Have definitive patient selection criteria been established for SNS for NOUR?

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