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Keywords:

  • Sacral nerve stimulation;
  • faecal incontinence

Abstract

Sacral nerve stimulation is an emerging surgical technique that uses chronic low-level electrical stimulation, applied to the nerves of the sacral plexus, to produce a clinically beneficial physiological effect on the lower bowel, pelvic floor and anal canal. Faecal incontinence is common, maximal conservative therapy may improve some patients but many require surgery. Results are variable and often unsatisfactory and further options are limited, the traditional end-point being the formation of a colostomy. Sacral nerve stimulation appears to be an alternative treatment that is successful, has low morbidity, is maintained in the medium term and associated with an improved quality of life. The technique has the advantage of a minimally invasive test procedure with high predictive value and the surgery is minor. The underlying mechanism of action although predominately neurological in nature remains to be determined. Precise patient selection is currently unclear however, results are superior to other techniques.