Objective: Faecal incontinence (FI) is a socially devastating problem. Sacral nerve modulation (SNM) has proven its place in the treatment of patients with FI. In this study, the first 100 definitive SNM implants in a single centre have been evaluated prospectively.
Method: Patients treated between March 2000 and May 2005 were included. Faecal incontinence was defined as at least one episode of involuntary faecal loss per week confirmed by a 3-week bowel habit diary. Patients were eligible for implantation of a permanent SNM when showing at least a 50% reduction in incontinence episodes or days during ambulatory test stimulation. Preoperative workup consisted of an X-defaecography, pudendal nerve terminal motor latency measurement, endo-anal ultrasound and anal manometry. The follow-up visits for the permanent implanted patients were scheduled at 1, 3, 6 and 12 months and annually thereafter. The bowel habit diary and anal manometry were repeated postoperatively during the follow-up visits.
Results: A total of 134 patients were included and received a subchronic test stimulation. One hundred patients (74.6%) had a positive test stimulation and received a definitive SNM implantation. The permanent implantation group consisted of 89 women and 11 men. The mean age was 55 years (range 26-75). The mean follow-up was 25.5 months (range 2.5-63.2). The mean number of incontinence episodes decreased significantly during the test stimulation (baseline, 31.3; test, 4.4; P < 0.0001) and at follow-up (36 months postoperatively, 4.8; P < 0.0001). There was no significant change in the mean anal resting pressure. The squeeze pressures were significantly higher at 6 months (109.8 mmHg; P = 0.03), 12 months (114.1 mmHg; P = 0.02) and 24 months postoperatively (113.5 mmHg; P = 0.007). The first sensation, urge and maximum tolerable volume did not change significantly. Twenty-one patients were considered late failures and received further treatment.
Conclusion: Sacral neuromodulation is an effective treatment for FI. The medium-term results were satisfying.