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Surg Endosc. 2014 Feb;28(2):691-7. doi: 10.1007/s00464-013-3192-0. Epub 2013 Sep 19.

Colonic electrical stimulation for the treatment of slow-transit constipation: a preliminary pilot study.

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  • 1General, Emergency and Minimally Invasive Surgery, Careggi University Hospital, Largo Brambilla 3, 50134, Florence, Italy, jamjac64@hotmail.com.



Electrical stimulation of the gastrointestinal tract is an attractive concept. In this article we report on a procedure for electrical colonic pacing due to intramuscular electrode placement for slow-transit constipation and some preliminary results.


From January 2011 to December 2012, all consecutive patients affected by constipation and evaluated in our Pelvic Floor Center were prospectively assessed. Patients who underwent colonic electrical stimulation were evaluated for the present study.


In the study period, 256 patients were evaluated for constipation; 58% were identified as having obstructed defecation syndrome, 27.3% with irritable bowel syndrome or mixed forms, 4% with pelvic floor dyssynergia, and 10.5% (27 patients) as having slow-transit constipation. After failure of all the maximal conventional therapies, two patients, candidates for colectomy, agreed to undergo colonic electrical stimulation before a resective treatment. Both patients were females, aged 34 and 29 years, and were suffering from severe constipation since childhood. The follow-up was 19 and 6 months. The number of bowel movements per week increased from 0.3 to 3.5 in the first patient and from 0.5 to 2.5 in the second patient. Both patients no longer needed laxatives, enemas, or any other treatment. The hospital stay was 4 days, the mean operative time was 120 min, and no complications were reported.


Colonic pacing seems to be feasible and shows positive results. Further studies are required with a larger number of patients and a longer follow-up period to confirm the role of this promising treatment for slow-transit constipation.

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