Greater Boston Urology Blog

Axonics vs. Medtronic for Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction

Are you suffering from overactive bladder, urinary retention, or fecal incontinence? Is it affecting your quality of life? Have you tried lifestyle changes and medications, but neither one has given you enough relief? You might want to consider sacral neuromodulation.

We asked Dr. Angel Marie Johnson, the director of our Women's Health Centers, to discuss sacral neuromodulation and the devices currently on the market.

As with all content on Greater Boston Urology's blog, the following information is educational in nature, not medical advice. Always talk to your physician about your specific health care questions and conditions.

What is sacral neuromodulation?

DR. JOHNSON: Sacral neuromodulation is a wire and battery that improves communication between the brain and the bladder and bowel. I perform sacral neuromodulation on both women and men following a successful trial.

Discuss how the devices work.

DR. JOHNSON: When it comes to sacral neuromodulation, there are two MRI-compatible devices. One manufactured by Medtronic and one manufactured by Axonics.

The Medtronic device has two battery options: rechargeable and non-rechargeable. Axonics offers a rechargeable battery. Both rechargeable batteries last approximately 15 years.

Medtronic’s non-rechargeable battery typically lasts five to seven years. At that point, the patient would need to return to the operating room to have a new battery placed and the old one removed.

The Axonics System is an MRI-compatible system with a rechargeable battery only. The device comes with a user-friendly remote control that resembles a key fob. Patients can turn the device up, down, off, and on. The Medtronic remote resembles a Samsung cell phone that has similar functionality.

The batteries are recharged remotely. Charging frequency ranges from 30+ minutes once per week to 60 minutes monthly.

(Editor's note: Medtronic first introduced InterStim to the marketplace in 1997. InterStim devices made before June 2020 are not MRI-compatible.)

Based on your experience with both devices, what should people keep in mind when deciding between Axonics vs. Medtronic?

DR. JOHNSON: Ease of use can play a role in the decision. The Medtronic remote control is more complex, and some patients might find it too daunting or confusing.

In my practice, I use both devices. In terms of efficacy, the Axonics and Medtronic devices are equivalent. The deciding factors come down to the patient and their comfort level with technology, their disease, and their age.

Thanks, Dr. Johnson!

If you suffer from overactive bladder, urinary retention, or fecal incontinence, make an appointment with Dr. Johnson today. Your quality of life matters. Let us help!

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