A prospective trial of temporary sacral nerve stimulation for constipation associated with neurological disease

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AimThis study assessed the effectiveness of temporary sacral nerve stimulation (SNS) in patients with constipation associated with neurological disease using an off–on–off design, and evaluated the long-term response in patients undergoing permanent SNS.MethodPatients with chronic constipation associated with neurological disease receiving specialist clinic care at the University Hospital North Durham over a 2-year period were recruited to a trial of SNS. Recordings of bowel function were made for 6 weeks (baseline) and a temporary electrode was then inserted and recordings were made for the next 3 weeks (stimulation). The electrodes were then removed and assessment was continued for a further 3 weeks (posttreatment). Patient-completed questionnaires were used to determine the severity of constipation (Global Assessment of Symptoms, Constipation, GA Constipation), symptoms (Patient Assessment of Constipation Symptoms score, PAC-SYM) and quality-of-life (Patient Assessment of Constipation–Quality Of Life score, PAC-QOL; European Quality of Life–Five-Domain score; European Quality of Life–Visual Analogue Score). Information was obtained on bowel function and medication. Physiological data were also available for transit and laser Doppler flow cytometry to measure mucosal blood flow.ResultsTwenty-two patients were recruited, of whom 18 completed the trial. GA Constipation reduced significantly during temporary SNS: −1.09 (95% CI −1.59 to −0.59; P = 0.0003). PAC-SYM and PAC-QOL scores showed similar improvements. There was also a significant fall in the time spent in the toilet (P = 0.04) and a decrease in laxative use (P = 0.03). Twelve (67%) patients responded to temporary SNS and received a permanent implant with long-term success in 50%.ConclusionSacral nerve stimulation can be effective in treating some patients with refractory severe neuroconstipation. A response to temporary SNS may predict long-term benefit in only half the patients undergoing permanent SNS.

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