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Sacral nerve stimulation (SNS) is a promising new therapeutic modality for pediatric urinary and fecal incontinence, and chronic constipation in children when all other treatments have been unsuccessful. The technology can be compared to a pacemaker for the heart, but instead, it provides stimulation to the anal canal area and lower part of the colon and the bladder.
While a few other children’s hospitals in the United States offer sacral nerve stimulation based on subjective criteria and clinical symptoms, Nationwide Children’s is one of the first to formally structure this therapy by evaluating objective bladder and bowel function studies before and after the procedure to assess treatment response.
Sacral nerve stimulation (sometimes called sacral neuromodulation) is used as a last resort, after the child has failed all other treatments such as medications and behavioral therapy. The two-stage procedure involves a test phase, where the child is closely monitored, and if significant improvement is observed, is followed by permanent implantation of the electrical stimulator. Members of the care team continue to monitor the patient’s progress as he or she reintegrates into daily activities.
The implanted device addresses communication problems between the brain and the nerves by delivering mild electrical impulses to the pelvic nerves. The pelvic nerves, in turn, begin to tell the muscles when to contract, ultimately helping control the ability to urinate or have a bowel movement.
At Nationwide Children’s, pediatric specialists in Gastroenterology, Urology and Pediatric Surgery work closely with the child’s family, primary care physician and other pediatric specialists to determine if the child may benefit from sacral nerve stimulation.
In addition to helping children with urinary and fecal incontinence, and chronic constipation, sacral nerve stimulation has proven successful in some children with anorectal malformations, Hirschsprung disease and certain forms of spina bifida.
Sacral nerve stimulation is considered for children meeting specific criteria, and only after traditional treatment methods have been explored. Speak with your pediatric urologist, pediatric surgeon or GI physician to see if your child could benefit from this treatment.
Physicians: To discuss the needs of your patient and whether sacral nerve stimulation may be an appropriate therapy, please call (614) 722-4086.
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