Fecal incontinence can be an embarrassing condition, but those who suffer are not alone. According to The National Institute of Health’s Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, nearly 18 million adults in the U.S. experience fecal incontinence – roughly one in 12 people.
Though it’s most common in older adults, anyone at any age can experience difficulty controlling the passage of feces through the bowels. Conditions and situations that increase the risk include:
• Damage to the nervous system through disease or injury
• Overall poor health due to chronic illness
• Childbirth that involves injuries to the pelvic floor
Many who suffer from fecal incontinence are hesitant to seek help despite the fact that there are many treatment options. A good gastroenterologist can work with patients to find a treatment that can help alleviate symptoms, giving them back their confidence and freedom. Treatment options vary and include:
• Carefully observing and adjusting the diet
• Bowel training
• Pelvic floor exercises
• Electrical stimulation
Electrical stimulation is the most recent treatment to be introduced. Approved by the FDA in 2009, products like the InterStim® Therapy System use electrical pulses to help reduce accidents. The system consists of
1. An electrical lead that is surgically implanted on the sacral nerve
2. A neurotransmitter that delivers an electrical pulse to the lead
3. A programmer used to control the electrical pulse.
Those interested in the InterStim® Therapy System first undergo a 2-week test simulation in which the sacral nerve (located at the base of the spine) is stimulated externally. If the number of accidents the patient normally experiences decreases by at least 50% during the trial, the patient is eligible for the surgical implantation.
Results vary, but according to the FDA, in one clinical study 88 out of 120 patients experienced 50% fewer accidents and 43 achieved full continence. The InterStim® Therapy System isn’t appropriate for every person who suffers from fecal incontinence, but everyone who suffers should know that they are not alone and that there are therapies out there that can help.
The gastroenterologists at The Endoscopy Center can help you learn more about the InterStim® Therapy System or any of the other available treatments for fecal incontinence. For more information, visit http://www.endo-world.com or call (850)-474-8988.