St. Luke's University Health Network


    • Dr Vincent Lucente Participates in Study to Assess Innovative Procedure

Dr Vincent Lucente Participates in Study to Assess Innovative Procedure

Dr. Vincent Lucente Participates in Study to Assess Innovative Procedure

St. Luke's Hospital-Allentown Campus serves as national study site

Internationally-recognized reconstructive pelvic surgeon Vincent Lucente, MD is only the second physician in the country to perform a minimally invasive procedure that may offer relief for people suffering from fecal incontinence symptoms. The revolutionary procedure is being evaluated in a two-year research protocol at five sites throughout the country including St. Luke's Hospital-Allentown Campus.

Fecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements, causing stool to leak unexpectedly from the rectum. It affects approximately seven percent of the adult population nationwide. “The problem can range from an occasional leakage of stool while passing gas to a complete loss of bowel control,” says Dr. Lucente. “Fecal incontinence can result from chronic constipation, diarrhea and muscle or nerve damage, which becomes more common as we age. It can also result from injury sustained during childbirth many years earlier to the nerves and muscles that control rectal function.”

Changes in diet and drug therapy may be most appropriate for relatively mild fecal incontinence, according to Dr. Lucente. However, life can change dramatically for people who have severe fecal incontinence. “A severe condition is considered the accidental loss of solid or liquid stool at least weekly,” he says. “The problem can obviously limit independence and cause horrible embarrassment.”

This new procedure employs a specially designed sling, developed by American Medical Systems (AMS), to support the anal-rectal function. It is performed through tiny incisions which are made on each side of the rectum and at the edges of the pelvic bone. The sling is placed along the posterior pelvic floor to provide support. The procedure takes less than one hour, does not require general anesthesia and, at most, may require an overnight stay for observation. “It is expected that most patients will be able to resume normal, routine activities in about four days after surgery,” says Dr. Lucente.

To date, three patients from the region have been enrolled in this research study and have undergone the procedure since December 11, 2007 at St. Luke's Hospital-Allentown Campus. “Although still very early, all three patients have had almost complete resolution of their incontinence and are ecstatic with the results,” says Dr. Lucente.

The study at St. Luke's has been made possible through collaboration with Dr. Lucente's practice, the Institute for Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery. “There has been every indication that the procedure will produce positive clinical outcomes, but at a minimum, we need to wait for the AMS company's official three-month post treatment research protocol results, that includes the data from all five sites' patients, to be disclosed before we qualify and quantify a clinical outcome result. Ultimately, the complete two-year study results will determine the clinical outcome value of the procedure,” says Dr. Lucente.

If this research study's outcome is positive, with these kinds of advancements in clinical care, more people should be encouraged to seek treatment for this health condition, according to their physician.

Under the medical direction of Dr. Lucente and the management of Robin Haff, RN, BSN, the St. Luke's Women's Health Research Division at St. Luke's Hospital-Allentown Campus and the Institute have worked together to be first in the United States and the world for many advances in women's health.

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