Background: Long-term results of large patient cohorts with fecal incontinence treated by sacral neuromodulation are limited. This study shows the long-term results after a mean follow-up of 7.1 years in 325 patients with fecal incontinence treated by continuous sacral neuromodulation.
Methods: All patients with fecal incontinence and eligible for sacral neuromodulation between 2000 and 2015 were evaluated retrospectively. Primary outcome was a decrease in episodes of fecal incontinence, which was defined as involuntary fecal loss at least once per week and documented by a 3 week bowel habit diary. Quality of life was assessed using the Short-Form 36 and the Fecal Incontinence Quality of Life Score.
Results: In the study, 374 patients were included for sacral neuromodulation screening and 325 patients (32 male, 9.7%) received permanent, continuous sacral neuromodulation. Mean age was 56.5 years (17-82 years) and mean follow-up was 7.1 years (3.0-183.4 months). In the 325 patients with permanent sacral neuromodulation, fecal incontinence episodes decreased from a mean of 16.1 ± 14.5 to 3.0 ± 3.7 per 3-week period after sacral neuromodulation (P < .001) according to the bowel habit diary. Sacral neuromodulation was removed due to unsatisfactory results in 81 patients. Quality of life (both Short-Form 36 and Fecal Incontinence Quality of Life Score) showed no significant difference compared with the Dutch population during follow-up.
Conclusion: Long-term efficacy of sacral neuromodulation can be maintained in about half (52.7%) of all patients screened with sacral neuromodulation for fecal incontinence after a mean follow-up of 7.1 years. Importantly, the quality of life of patients with sacral neuromodulation for fecal incontinence did not differ from the general population.