Long-term durability of sacral nerve stimulation therapy for chronic fecal incontinence

Tracy Hull, Chad Giese, Steven D. Wexner, Anders Mellgren, Ghislain Devroede, Robert D. Madoff, Katherine Stromberg, John A. Coller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


Background: Limited data have been published regarding the long-term results of sacral nerve stimulation, or sacral neuromodulation, for severe fecal incontinence. Objectives: The aim was to assess the outcome of sacral nerve stimulation with the use of precise tools and data collection, focusing on the long-term durability of the therapy. Five-year data were analyzed. Design: Patients entered in a multicenter, prospective study for fecal incontinence were followed at 3, 6, and 12 months and annually after device implantation. Patients: Patients with chronic fecal incontinence in whom conservative treatments had failed or who were not candidates for more conservative treatments were selected. Interventions: Patients with ≥50% improvement over baseline in fecal incontinence episodes per week during a 14-day test stimulation period received sacral nerve stimulation therapy. Main Outcome Measures: Patients were assessed with a 14-day bowel diary and Fecal Incontinence Quality of Life and Fecal Incontinence Severity Index questionnaires. Therapeutic success was defined as ≥50% improvement over baseline in fecal incontinence episodes per week. All adverse events were collected. Results: A total of 120 Patients (110 women; mean age, 60.5 years) underwent implantation. Seventy-six of these Patients (63%) were followed a minimum of 5 years (maximum, longer than 8 years) and are the basis for this report. Fecal incontinence episodes per week decreased from a mean of 9.1 at baseline to 1.7 at 5 years, with 89% (n ≥ 64/72) having ≥50% improvement (p < 0.0001) and 36% (n ≥ 26/72) having complete continence. Fecal Incontinence Quality of Life scores also significantly improved for all 4 scales between baseline and 5 years (n ≥ 70; p < 0.0001). Twenty-seven of the 76 (35.5%) Patients required a device revision, replacement, or explant. Conclusions: The therapeutic effect and improved quality of life for fecal incontinence is maintained 5 years after sacral nerve stimulation implantation and beyond. Device revision, replacement, or explant rate was acceptable, but future efforts should be aimed at improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-245
Number of pages12
JournalDiseases of the colon and rectum
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013


  • Fecal incontinence
  • InterStim therapy
  • Sacral nerve stimulation
  • Sacral neuromodulation


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