Treating Bowel Incontinence
Bowel incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements, and while we may not like to talk about it, it affects more than 20 percent of adults, particularly women.
“It’s unpleasant and can be embarrassing, but it is important to recognize that bowel incontinence is a treatable condition,” says Dr. J. Michael Parker, a Middlesex Health colorectal surgeon.
Dr. Parker now uses a device created by Axonics that is implanted in the body to treat bowel incontinence. It is considered sacral nerve stimulation therapy, and it can be used to treat both bladder and bowel incontinence.
Sacral nerve stimulation therapy “reorganizes” the communication pathway between the bowel or bladder and the brain instead of the specific organ itself, and Dr. Parker says more than 85 percent of patients see improvement after being treated with this therapy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Axonics device to be implanted in the body for at least 15 years. However, Dr. Parker says it will likely last longer than that. And if a device’s battery does need to be changed, he says it can be done without changing the lead wires. This gives patients continued therapy.
“So far, my patients are very happy.” Dr. Parker says.
Before Dr. Parker talks to his patients about the Axonics device, he typically tries less invasive treatment options. For example, he may encourage them to try fiber products to help bulk their stool and pelvic physical therapy. Radio frequency ablation and polymer injections within the anal sphincter may also help.
But sometimes the body needs more, and Dr. Parker says sacral nerve stimulation has excellent results and is widely used to treat bowel incontinence. Implanting the Axonics device is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure, and recovery is also minimal. Patients do not have to limit their activity, the therapy begins to work immediately, and there aren’t even any stitches to remove.
For more information about colorectal surgery at Middlesex Health, click here.
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