Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation for slow transit constipation: a pilot study

Colorectal Dis. 2012 Apr;14(4):e165-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2011.02820.x.


Aim: Chronic constipation is a problem with debilitating effects on patients' quality of life. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation in patients with slow transit constipation.

Method: Eighteen patients (17 women, median age 47 years, range 21-74) with slow transit constipation previously failing maximal biofeedback therapy participated in the study. Patients had 12 sessions of 30 minutes of percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation. Wexner constipation score (0-30, 30 being the worst) was the primary outcome, colonic transit time, bowel diary and Patient Assessment of Constipation Quality of Life (PAC-QOL) were evaluated pre- and post-treatment.

Results: Wexner constipation score improved significantly with treatment (median 18 pre-treatment, range 10-24, to median 14 post-treatment, range 7-22; P = 0.003). The PAC-QOL also showed significant improvement (median 2.31, range 1.36-3.61, to median 1.43, range 0.39-3.78; P = 0.008). Stool frequency increased (P = 0.048) and the use of laxatives decreased (P = 0.025). There was no change in colonic transit time (P = 0.45).

Conclusion: Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation has potential as an affordable and minimally invasive treatment for slow transit constipation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Constipation / physiopathology
  • Constipation / therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Transit*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life
  • Tibial Nerve*
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation*
  • Treatment Outcome