Sacral Neuromodulation as a Treatment for Chronic Pelvic Pain

T. Marcelissen, R. Jacobs, P. van Kerrebroeck, Stefan De Wachter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Chronic pelvic pain syndrome is a debilitating disease which often has a major impact on quality of life. A significant number of patients do not respond to conservative treatment and often no good alternative can be offered except radical surgery. Sacral neuromodulation is a well established therapy for patients with lower urinary tract dysfunction. This therapy has also been suggested to be useful in the treatment of chronic pelvic pain. Although currently no Food and Drug Administration approval exists for this indication, several studies have demonstrated promising results. We provide an overview of the published literature on sacral neuromodulation as a treatment for chronic pelvic pain. Materials and Methods: A PubMed (R) search was performed to identify articles in English from 1990 to February 2010 reporting treatment of pelvic pain with sacral neuromodulation. In addition, the current definitions of pelvic pain syndromes and the mechanisms of action are discussed. Results: A total of 12 relevant articles were identified. Of these articles 10 mainly addressed the efficacy of sacral neuromodulation in patients with interstitial cystitis/bladder pain. The percentage of patients who responded to test stimulation was reported between 51% and 77%. Of the 10 articles 7 reported treatment outcome after implantation. The duration of followup ranged between 5 and 87 months. The mean reduction in pain scores was reported between 40% and 72%. The reoperation rate ranged between 27% and 50% after long-term followup. Two articles included patients with miscellaneous urogenital pain syndromes. The success rates after implantation ranged from 60% to 77% with followup ranging between 19 and 36 months. Conclusions: Currently there is insufficient evidence to determine the role of sacral neuromodulation in the treatment of chronic pelvic pain. Larger prospective trials with long-term evaluation are required to determine the ultimate efficacy of this treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-393
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


  • electric stimulation therapy
  • urinary bladder
  • pelvic pain

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