Aim Sacral nerve stimulation (SNS) is considered a first-line surgical treatment option for faecal incontinence. There is little information on long-term results. The results of SNS for faecal incontinence performed at a single centre over a 10-year period are reported.
Method A cohort analysis of consecutive patients treated with SNS for faecal incontinence over a 10-year period was carried out. Data were collected prospectively using bowel habit diaries and St Mark’s and Cleveland Clinic incontinence scores. Treatment success was defined as a > 50% reduction in episodes of faecal incontinence compared with baseline.
Results Temporary SNS was performed in 118 patients, and 91 (77%) were considered suitable for chronic stimulation. The median period of follow up was 22 (1–138) months. Seventy patients were followed for 1 year with success in 63 (90%). Of 18 patients followed for 5 years, 15 (83%) reported continued success, 11 (61%) maintained full efficacy, 4 (22%) reported some loss, and 3 (17%) reported complete loss. Three patients with a 10-year follow up had no loss in efficacy. Overall, complete loss of efficacy was observed in 14 (16%) patients at a median of 11.5 months following implantation. A further 5 (6%) patients showed deterioration with time. In 9 (47%), no reason for the deterioration in symptoms could be identified.
Conclusions SNS can be effective for up to 10 years. Some patients experience deterioration in symptoms over time. The reasons for this are often not evident.