Variation in bony landmarks and predictors of success with sacral neuromodulation

  • Katherine E. Husk
  • Lauren D. Norris
  • Marcella G. Willis-Gray
  • Kristy M. Borawski
  • Elizabeth J. GellerEmail author
Original Article


Introduction and hypothesis

We assessed variations in sacral anatomy and lead placement as predictors of sacral neuromodulation (SNM) success. Based solely on bony landmarks, we also assessed the accuracy of the 9 and 2 protocol for locating S3.


This is a retrospective cohort study performed from October 2008 to December 2016 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Fluoroscopic images were used to assess sacral anatomy and lead location. Success was defined as >50% symptom improvement after stage I and clinical response at most recent follow-up.


Of 249 procedures, 209 were primary implants and 40 were revisions among 187 (89.5%) women and 22 (10.5%) men. Success rate was 83.3% for primary implants and 89.4% for revisions. Success was associated with shorter implant duration (21.3 ± 22.2 vs 33.6 ± 25.8 months), higher body mass index (30.3 ± 7.8 vs 27.6 ± 6.1 kg/m2), and straight vs curved lead (90.5% vs 80.5%) (all p = .05), but not with sacral anatomy or lead placement. In assessing the 9 and 2 protocol, mean distance from coccyx to S3 did not equal 9 cm: 7.4 ± 1.0 vs 7.2 ± 0.8 cm (p = .26), while mean distance from midline to S3 did equal 2 cm: 1.9 ± 0.4 vs 2.0 ± 0.7 cm (p = .37).


Variations in sacral anatomy and lead placement did not predict SNM success. The 2-cm protocol was verified while the 9-cm protocol was not, although neither was predictive of success, which may obviate the need to mark bony landmarks prior to fluoroscopy.


Bony landmarks Fluoroscopy Lead wire Sacral S3 foramen Sacral anatomy Sacral neuromodulation 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© The International Urogynecological Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine E. Husk
    • 1
  • Lauren D. Norris
    • 1
  • Marcella G. Willis-Gray
    • 1
  • Kristy M. Borawski
    • 2
  • Elizabeth J. Geller
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive SurgeryUniversity of North Carolina Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of UrologyUniversity of North Carolina Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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