Aim: Sacral neuromodulation (SNM) is a minimally invasive therapy for functional constipation (FC) and is most often used to treat adults. Recent studies suggest that SNM may also beneficial in children. However, comparative data regarding preferred age of SNM for FC are lacking. Therefore, long-term results of SNM for FC were compared between children and adults.
Method: All patients treated with SNM for FC between 2004 and 2015 were evaluated. Outcomes of children (age 10-18 years) were compared with those for adults (≥ 18 years). The primary end-point was a defaecation frequency of three or more times per week, which is consistent with the ROME-III criteria. Secondary outcomes were quality of life (QoL; SF-36) and the Cleveland Clinic Constipation Score.
Results: One hundred and eighty patients (45 children, 135 adults) were eligible for SNM. The mean age was 15.8 (children) and 41.4 years (adults). One hundred and twenty-six patients received permanent SNM (38 children, 88 adults). Mean follow-up was 47 months in both groups. Defaecation frequency increased in both groups after SNM compared with baseline. Defaecation frequency in adults was higher than in children. The increased defaecation frequency was maintained during the entire follow-up period in both groups. QoL of children was impaired compared with the Dutch population with regard to bodily pain, general health and vitality. Adults had worse QoL with regard to physical functioning, bodily pain, general health, vitality and social functioning compared with the Dutch population. QoL of children did not differ from adults.
Conclusion: Sacral neuromodulation (SNM) should be considered in children (< 18 years) with FC. However, the indication of SNM for FC remains debatable considering the limited improvements and high costs.