Temporary (Test wire) Sacral Nerve Stimulation
When is this performed?
Sacral nerve stimulation (SNS) is mainly used as a treatment for certain patients with faecal incontinence. Patients most likely to benefit are those with intact muscles that do not work very well, though sometimes patients with damaged muscles benefit. It is occasionally used for patients with constipation.
What other tests are necessary before the procedure?
You will need tests to identify you as likely to derive benefit from the procedure. These tests include anorectal physiology, endoanal ultrasound, proctography and transit studies.
What does the procedure involve?
The temporary wire is inserted in an out-patient setting under local anaesthetic (an injection to numb the skin). A fine needle is passed through the skin of the buttock with you lying on your front. The surgeon performing this will establish where the nerves supplying the anal sphincter are located by passing a very low power electrical current down the needle. The needle is then switched for a flexible wire which is taped to the buttock skin. The other end of this wire is then connected to a stimulator which is the size of a small walkman or iPOD, worn by the patient on their belt.
What is the recovery like after surgery?
You will be able to walk out of the consultation room after the procedure with usually only minor discomfort. You will be asked to keep a diary of your bowel control and episodes of incontinence. If your control is improved with the wire in place, then we may recommend considering implantation of a permanent implant. Approximately two thirds of patients having a temporary wire proceed to a permanent implant.