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Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - Outpatient procedure can minimize or put an end to bowel incontinence

Outpatient procedure can minimize or put an end to bowel incontinence

By Thomas J. Kayal, M.D.

            Years ago, many people suffered in silence with urinary incontinence. But today, there are a wealth of medical procedures and over-the-counter treatments to overcome and even eliminate this medical condition. All the while, patients suffering from bowel (fecal) incontinence continued to deal with the inconvenience and embarrassment of a similar problem. The condition is often brought on by women who have had vaginal deliveries and episiotomies, use of forceps during childbirth; a weakened pelvic floor; diabetes; multiple sclerosis; or late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to the physical symptoms, people with this condition also live with a diminished quality of life including social isolation which can lead to depression.

Injury to the rings of muscle at the end of the rectum (anal sphincter) may make it difficult to hold stool back properly. Many of my patients are surprised to learn as many as one in 10 women over the age of 40 are living with this condition. It’s gratifying to report there are several treatment options available, including a simple two-step outpatient surgical procedure. The goal is for patients to overcome this all-consuming condition and resume living normal lives, without the constant worry of a potential accident.

Minimally invasive surgical treatment performed in 15 minutes

Muscle and nerve damage to the anal sphincter (located in the rectum) is often the physical reason for fecal incontinence. Medication, prescribed to alter the consistency of the stool, dietary changes and physical therapy are the first courses of treatment, in most cases. But if those efforts are not successful, an outpatient surgical procedure that will strengthen the nerve stimulus to the anal muscles has proven to be a successful, minimally invasive solution. This modification is accomplished with the surgical implantation of a miniature electrode, inserted under local anesthesia. The implantation of the device is performed as part one of a two-step procedure. Once this procedure is complete, the patient can return home to rest comfortably ─ no hospitalization required.

After a successful seven-day trial of this newly implanted miniature electrode, a second procedure is performed in which a half-dollar sized battery is implanted into the buttocks, again under local anesthesia. This provides an electrical stimulus to the anal sphincter muscle continuously resulting in the end of episodes of fecal incontinence. Again, the patient can return home after this procedure and start to experience a significant improvement in the ability to control bowel movements.

There is no reason to suffer in silence

            It’s not uncommon for me to meet new patients who have been living with bowel incontinence for years. With the multitude of simple treatment options available today, help for this unpleasant condition is just a phone call away. If you or someone you know needs help, contact a colorectal surgeon to discuss what options might help significantly improve your quality of life. There is no reason to wait.

CentraState Medical Center in Freehold has central New Jersey’s only anal physiology lab which offers diagnostic testing for patients with chronic constipation and fecal incontinence. CentraState’s Ambulatory Surgery Center is dedicated exclusively to outpatient care for a wide range of same-day, minimally invasive procedures and surgeries. All procedures are performed by board-certified surgeons who are supported by a highly experienced surgical team. To learn more, call (866) CENTRA7 or visit centrastate.com/surgical-services.

Dr. Kayal is a board-certified colon and rectal surgeon on staff at CentraState Medical Center. He specializes in laparoscopic colon surgery and minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery to treat diseases of the colon and rectum, fecal incontinence, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, and chronic constipation. He can be reached by calling Advanced Surgical Health Associates at (732) 308-4202.