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Ann Surg. 2014 May;259(5):939-43. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e3182a6266c.

Outcome of percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS) for fecal incontinence: a prospective cohort study.

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From the Academic Surgical Unit, Centre for Digestive Diseases, Blizard Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, University London, Whitechapel, London, United Kingdom.



The aim of this study was to assess the long-term efficacy of percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS) in fecal incontinence (FI).


There is extensive evidence regarding the efficacy of PTNS in urinary incontinence. Data on the efficacy of PTNS for FI are limited to a few small case series with relatively short-follow up.


A prospective cohort of patients with FI was studied. Incontinence scores were measured using a validated questionnaire (Cleveland Clinic Florida-FI score) at specific time points: before treatment, after completion of a treatment course (12 PTNS sessions), and before the last maintenance ("top-up") therapy. Deferment time and average number of weekly incontinence episodes were also estimated from a prospective bowel dairy kept by the patient at these time points. Quality of life was assessed with the Rockwood Fecal Incontinence Quality of Life questionnaire.


A total of 150 patients were recruited to the study between January 2008 and June 2012. Analysis was performed on 115 patients who continued to receive PTNS after a median follow-up of 26 (range, 12-42) months. The baseline Cleveland Clinic Florida-FI score ±SD (12.0 ± 3.9) improved after 12 PTNS sessions (9.4 ± 4.6, P < 0.0001) and after "top-up" treatments (10.0 ± 4.3, P < 0.0001). The increase in the Cleveland Clinic Florida-FI score between the end of the 12th session and the last "top-up" therapy was also significant (P = 0.04). A similar pattern was seen for the deferment time and the quality of life scores. The median time between "top-up" sessions was 12 months (range, 1-40 months), significantly longer than the recommended interval of 6 months.


PTNS is a well-tolerated treatment with high acceptability in the majority of patients. It provides a sustained improvement in FI up to 42 months in a relatively noninvasive manner. The effect of PTNS diminishes with time and additional therapy sessions at 6 monthly intervals may result in greater improvements. PTNS ought to be considered as the first step in all patients with FI refractory to maximum conservative therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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