Sacral nerve modulation for defaecation and micturition disorders in patients with spina bifida


C.G.M.I. Baeten, Department of Colorectal Surgery, Maastricht University Medical Centre, P. Debyelaan 25, 6202 AZ Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Aim  Sacral nerve modulation is a well accepted method for the treatment of defaecation disorders and voiding dysfunction. Results of sacral nerve modulation in patients with spinal cord lesions are not well assessed, but preliminary results look poor. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of sacral nerve modulation for defaecation disorders and voiding dysfunction in patients with spina bifida.

Method  Consecutive patients with spina bifida suffering from a myelomeningocele and combined faecal and urinary functional disorders that were eligible for peripheral nerve evaluation (PNE) were studied. A permanent sacral nerve modulation implantation was performed after successful PNE.

Results  Ten patients (four female) were included in this study with a median age of 26.4 (range 11.1–41.0) years. In two the PNE was not possible. The median faecal incontinence days (6.0 vs 3.5) and episodes (8.5 vs 3.5) per 21 days decreased significantly during the 3-week period of PNE (= 0.033). Only 3/10 (30%) patients had a more than 50% improvement and proceeded to a permanent sacral nerve modulation implantation. In one patient it was not possible to perform the permanent implant.

Conclusion  Preliminary results of sacral nerve modulation in a subgroup of spina bifida patients with combined faecal and urinary functional disorders look promising, but long-term results in larger patient groups need to be studied.