Study design: Cross-sectional descriptive study.
Objectives: To assess long-term effects and quality of life (QoL) of using sacral anterior root stimulation (SARS) in spinal cord injured patients.
Setting: Neurosurgical and Urological Departments of a large teaching hospital and a large rehabilitation centre in the Netherlands.
Methods: In all, 42 patients with complete spinal cord injury (SCI) implanted between 1987 and 2000 were included. A questionnaire was constructed to determine complications, technical failures and personal experiences of the patients. The Qualiveen questionnaire was used and the outcome was compared with data obtained from a reference group of 400 SCI patients with neurogenic bladder problems not using the bladder controller. The Qualiveen questionnaire measures disease-specific aspects in four domains with respect to limitations, constraints, fears and feelings and general QoL aspects, suitable for use in SCI patients with urinary disorders.
Results: The results of 37 patients are presented. Our results with the bladder controller with respect to medical and technical complications and infection rates are similar to the results presented by others. From users' experiences, the most important advantages reported were a decreased infection rate (68%), improved social life (54%) and continence (54%). Comparison of the obtained results of our patient group with the Qualiveen questionnaire with a reference group not using the bladder controller indicates that the specific impact of urinary disorders in the four domains on QoL is reduced and that general QoL is improved.
Conclusion: SARS is effective and safe for neurogenic bladder management in patients with complete SCI. Users' experiences are positive. Furthermore, this therapy seems to reduce the effects of urinary-disorder-specific QoL aspects, and to increase the QoL in general.