Predictive Factors for Successful Sacral Nerve Stimulation in the Treatment of Fecal Incontinence: Lessons From a Comprehensive Treatment Assessment

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Sacral nerve stimulation has a place in the treatment algorithm for fecal incontinence, but the predictive factors of its midterm and long-term success are unknown.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of a 3-year sacral nerve stimulation treatment of fecal continence and to identify specific predictive factors from the pretreatment and per-treatment assessments for the midterm success of sacral nerve stimulation.


A cohort analysis of consecutive patients treated with sacral nerve stimulation for fecal incontinence over a period of 3 years was performed.


This study was conducted at an academic colorectal unit in a tertiary care center.


Sixty patients were available for the assessment of 3-year outcomes.


Clinical outcome (including Cleveland Clinic score) and anorectal physiological data were collected prospectively before and after treatment.


At the 3-year follow-up, 33 of the 60 implanted patients had an improved outcome as defined by a ≥30% improvement in the Cleveland Clinic score from baseline (37.1% on intention to treat and 55.0% per protocol), whereas 22 had an unsuccessful outcome as defined by a <30% improvement in the Cleveland Clinic score from baseline (24.7% on intention to treat and 36.7% per protocol), of whom 7 had their device explanted or switched off permanently before the 3-year assessment, and 3 were lost at follow-up. At 3 years, we failed to identify any factors that could predict the 3-year clinical outcome of sacral nerve stimulation based on preimplantation and postimplantation assessments.


This study involved a relatively small number of patients. There was a lack of consistency in the tool used to evaluate the efficacy of the test and permanent stimulations.


Based on per-protocol assessments, 55% of the patients had improved outcomes at the 3-year follow-up. No predictor was identified by the pretreatment and posttreatment assessments (see Video, Supplemental Digital Content 1,

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