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Pudendal Nerve Study

Introduction

The pudendal nerves are the nerves that control the anal muscles and the anal sphincters. These nerves can be damaged during childbirth, cancer surgery or simply not working properly. A pudendal nerve study uses a probe to send a signal to these nerves and measure their reactions.

The pudendal nerves control the muscles of the urethra and the anus, including the sphincters (‘valves’) that control urination and defecation. Sometimes these nerves can be damaged (this can happen when giving birth or during surgery) and sometimes they just do not function correctly.

A pudendal nerve study evaluates the function of the pudendal nerves and their control of the anal sphincter, and involves the stimulation of the nerve with a low electric current.

Preparation

Prior to your appointment for Diagnostic testing it is essential that you administer a Microlax enema 2 hours before your appointment. This will ensure that your bowels are completely empty for the testing. Microlax enemas are available from reception or can be purchased at your local pharmacy for approximately $5 each.

Procedure

The specialist performs a rectal examination and uses their index finger to place a small electrode (which is connected to a computer) against the nerve in the rectum. The patient may feel nothing during the test, or they may feel a slight ‘buzz’ or ‘bump’ sensation.

The electric current should make the muscles controlling the sphincter contract. The time it takes for the electric stimulus to cause the contraction is measured - if the reaction time is slow, then it indicates that a surgical procedure to repair a weak sphincter may not fully treat the condition.

The procedure itself is very quick and generally takes no longer than 5-10 minutes.