A 50-year-old man with intractable anal pain attributed to proctalgia fugax underwent insertion of a sacral nerve stimulator via the right S3 vertebral foramen for pain control with good symptomatic relief. Thirteen months later, he presented with signs of sepsis. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed a large presacral abscess. MRI demonstrated increased enhancement along the pathway of the stimulator electrode, indicating that the abscess was caused by infection introduced at the time of sacral nerve stimulator placement.
The patient was treated with broad spectrum antibiotics, and the sacral nerve stimulator and electrode were removed. Attempts were made to drain the abscess transrectally using minimally invasive techniques but these were unsuccessful and CT guided transperineal drainage was then performed. Despite this, the presacral abscess progressed, developing enlarging gas locules and extending to the pelvic brim to involve the aortic bifurcation, causing hydronephrosis and radiological signs of impending sacral osteomyelitis. MRI showed communication between the rectum and abscess resulting from transrectal drainage. In view of the progressive presacral sepsis, a laparotomy was performed with drainage of the abscess, closure of the upper rectum and formation of a defunctioning end sigmoid colostomy. Following this, the presacral infection resolved.
Presacral abscess formation secondary to an infected sacral nerve stimulator electrode has not been reported previously. Our experience suggests that in a similar situation, the optimal management is to perform laparotomy with drainage of the presacral abscess together with simultaneous removal of the sacral nerve stimulator and electrode.