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Colorectal Dis. 2011 Aug;13(8):e196-202. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2011.02646.x.

Sacral nerve stimulation for faecal incontinence: optimizing outcome and managing complications.

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Physiology Unit, St Mark's Hospital, Harrow, Middlesex, UK.



A knowledge of the principles of neurostimulation is essential to achieve optimal efficacy and minimize adverse effects. The aim of this article was to review the current evidence regarding device programming in the management of patients having sacral nerve stimulation (SNS) for faecal incontinence.


A Medline search was performed including the keywords and/or MeSH headings of sacral nerve stimulation, neuromodulation, artificial pacemaker, faecal incontinence, programming, adverse effects and complications. Further studies were identified by cross-referencing from relevant articles and by appraisal of recent peer-reviewed conference abstracts and proceedings.


Neurostimulator programming is an important component of SNS. Efficacy can be improved or restored with reprogramming. Adverse stimulation is often reversible, and nonstimulation-related complications are correctable. A total loss of efficacy can be explained in over one-half of patients.


An improved outcome of SNS can be achieved by selecting the best possible stimulation parameters individualized to each patient. Further research into the optimal settings is needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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