Pelvic floor activation upon stimulation of the sacral spinal nerves in sacral neuromodulation patients

Neurourol Urodyn. 2020 Aug;39(6):1815-1823. doi: 10.1002/nau.24425. Epub 2020 Jun 25.


Purpose: To assess the activation of the different parts of the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) upon electrical stimulation of the sacral spinal nerves while comparing the different lead electrode configurations.

Material and methods: PFM electromyography (EMG) was recorded using an intravaginal multiple array probe with 12 electrodes pairs, which allows to make a distinction between the different sides and depths of the pelvic floor. In addition concentric needle EMG of the external anal sphincter was performed to exclude far-field recording. A medtronic InterStim tined lead (model 3889) was used as stimulation source. Standard SNM parameters (monophasic pulsed square wave, 210 microseconds, 14 Hz) were used to stimulate five different bipolar electrode configurations (3+0-/3+2-/3+1-/0+3-/1+3-) up to and around the sensory threshold. Of each EMG signal the stimulation intensity needed to evoke the EMG signals as well as its amplitude and latency were determined. Linear mixed models was used to analyse the data.

Results: Twenty female patients and 100 lead electrode configurations were stimulated around the sensory response threshold resulting in 722 stimulations and 12 times as many (8664) EMG recordings. A significant increase in EMG amplitude was seen upon increasing stimulation intensity (P < .0001). Large differences were noted between the EMG amplitude recorded at the different sides (ipsilateral>posterior>anterior>contralateral) and depths (deep>center>superficial) of the pelvic floor. These differences were noted for all lead electrodes configurations stimulated (P < .0001). Larger EMG amplitudes were measured when the active electrode was located near the entry point of the sacral spinal nerves through the sacral foramen (electrode #3). No differences in EMG latency could be withheld, most likely due to the sacral neuroanatomy (P > .05).

Conclusions: A distinct activation pattern of the PFM could be identified for all stimulated lead electrode configurations. Electrical stimulation with the most proximal electrode (electrode #3) as the active one elicited the largest PFM contractions.

Keywords: neuromodulation; new instrumentation; overactive bladder; pelvic floor; pelvic organ dysfunction; prospective study; sacral neuromodulation; sacral neurostimulation; urinary incontinence; urinary retention.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Electric Stimulation*
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lumbosacral Plexus / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Pelvic Floor / physiology*
  • Sacrum / physiology