Sacral nerve stimulation is a treatment option for patients with severe forms of faecal incontinence. Less severe forms, for example as a consequence of injury to the sphincter, may in some cases be better treated via an anal sphincter repair procedure.
Sacral nerve stimulation, also referred to as sacral nerve neuro-modulation, involves the placement of an electrode on to nerves which send and receive electric signals between the pelvic floor muscles, the rectum and the anal sphincter, and the brain.
These nerves connect with the spinal cord through the sacrum (the lowest section of the spine also known as the 'tailbone'). The electrode provides a constant low voltage stimulation to the nerves which has been shown to improve both sensation in the rectal area and continence for many people with severe faecal incontinence.
Where initial results indicate that a patient will have improved sensation and control via sacral nerve simulation, a permanent electrode (much like a heart pacemaker) can be implanted in the sacral nerves.