The Effect of Sacral Neuromodulation on Anticholinergic Use and Expenditures in a Privately Insured Population




Sacral neuromodulation is Food and Drug Administration approved for many types of voiding dysfunction. Goals of treatment often include cessation of anticholinergic therapy. With the goal of understanding the impact of sacral neuromodulation on anticholinergic use, we analyzed patterns of care using a national claims-based dataset.

Materials and Methods

The Ingenix (i3) data base contains insurance claims, including utilization and cost data, for 75 large employers. De-identified patients who underwent sacral neuromodulation between 2002 and 2007 were identified by the unique current procedural terminology-4 procedure code for pulse generator implantation, code 64590. The number and costs of anticholinergic prescriptions were compared before and after treatment.


There were 266 percutaneous and 794 two-staged procedures performed from 2002 to 2007 in the i3 dataset. A total of 484 pulse generator implantations were performed, representing 46% of the test procedures. During the year prior to pulse generator placement, each patient purchased an average of 2.1 prescriptions for an anticholinergic agent (SD 3.5). During the year after neuromodulation, each patient purchased an average of 1.0 prescription (SD 2.3, p < 0.0001 by t-test). Prescription charges were $241.31 per patient before and $103.52 after neuromodulation, a statistically significant cost difference (p < 0.0001 by t-test). During the year before the procedure, 50% of patients filled anticholinergic prescriptions. This decreased to 23% after the procedure (p < 0.0001 by chi-square test).


Sacral neuromodulation was associated with a significant decrease in the use of anticholinergic medication. Cost-effectiveness analyses that take into account patient quality-adjusted life years are needed to determine the true cost-benefit ratio of sacral neuromodulation.