Sacral nerve stimulation for constipation.

Published: 2nd November 2012

Authors: G. P. Thomas, T. C. Dudding, G. Rahbour, R. J. Nicholls, C. J. Vaizey


For over 10 years sacral nerve stimulation (SNS) has been used for patients with constipation resistant to conservative treatment. A review of the literature is presented.


PubMed, MEDLINE and Embase databases were searched for studies demonstrating the use of SNS for the treatment of constipation.


Thirteen studies have been published describing the results of SNS for chronic constipation. Of these, three were in children and ten in adults. Test stimulation was successful in 42–100 per cent of patients. In those who proceeded to permanent SNS, up to 87 per cent showed an improvement in symptoms at a median follow‐up of 28 months. The success of stimulation varied depending on the outcome measure being used. Symptom improvement correlated with improvement in quality of life and patient satisfaction scores.


SNS appears to be an effective treatment for constipation, but this needs to be confirmed in larger prospective studies with longer follow‐up. Improved outcome measures need to be adopted given the multiple symptoms that constipation may be associated with. Comparison with other established surgical therapies also needs consideration. Copyright © 2012 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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