Sacral neuromodulation for faecal incontinence

A relatively new treatment called sacral neuromodulation (SNM) is now commonly offered to adults suffering with faecal incontinence. Suitable patients include those with faecal incontinence caused by childbirth, surgery, and advancing age.

A battery powered unit is implanted into the lower back. This is connected to electrodes which rest on the nerves in the lower spine. This stimulator then continuously sends electrical impulses to the nerves and muscles that control the lower bowel (rectum and anus). The result is improved continence.

Why study sacral neuromodulation for faecal incontinence?

Previous studies have reported a great benefit of SNM in some patients. Unfortunately, other patients can have little or no response. We are still unsure about how SNM restores bowel control and we still do not know with certainty how effective SNM really is.

SNM costs on average £10,000 per patient just for the equipment and is not without its risks and side-effects. It is therefore vital that these questions are answered.

How will sacral neuromodulation for faecal incontinence be studied?

This research aims to establish how SNM works and how well SNM works. Patients who meet the current national criteria for SNM will be invited to participate in the trial. They will undergo detailed evaluation of their symptoms. They will also undergo specialist tests before and after treatment.

These tests will study their anal and rectal function as well as their corresponding brain activity. In contrast to a traditional clinical trial, the design of this trial will allow all patients to receive the treatment. It will be performed in several NHS specialist centres. The trial will include a total of 80 patients. Each patient will participate in the trial for 9 months, but their SNM treatment will continue thereafter.

What opportunities are there for you in SUBSoNIC?

I'd like to be considered as a trial participant Register here
I'd like to help with public involvement in this study Register here