Without Fear of Bowel Accidents Mother of the Bride Enjoys Wedding

Several years ago Debra of Bethlehem suffered from such extreme bowel incontinence that she never knew when she would have an “accident.”

At that time it was not uncommon for her to have four or five accidents in a single day. Then, she often wondered how she would ever get through important ceremonies.

But, thanks to a relatively new surgical device that sends mild electrical pulses to stimulate the sacral nerve, she enjoyed every minute of her daughter’s October wedding. In fact, due to the effectiveness of sacral nerve stimulation (SNS) therapy, she didn’t have a single incident during the ceremony, reception or the four days of festivities surrounding the nuptials.

“I ate, drank, danced and did everything I wanted to do,” she said. “The wedding was outside in tents, pretty far from a bathroom, but still I could really relax and enjoy it. SNS just makes the quality of your life so much better.” SNS therapy improves communication between the brain and sacral nerves, which are involved in the control of bowel function.

Debra’s bowel control problems resulted from anal cancer. She was diagnosed and treated in 2004 and believes the disease and radiation treatment to combat it, damaged the nerves and muscles that control bowel movements. The bowel incontinence began several years later and became progressively worse to the point that she needed to wear adult diapers.

Then, in February 2013, colorectal surgeon Camille Eyvazzadeh, MD, informed her about the InterStim® Therapy System approved in 2011 by the Federal Drug Administration. The therapy entails the surgical implantation of a pacemaker-like device about the size of a pager in the back.

The device, a neurostimulator, applies a small electrical stimulation to the sacral nerve that controls the anal sphincter. The therapy has proven to be very effective in reducing – and in many cases eliminating – bowel accidents.

The system has several components: a neurostimulator, which delivers an electrical pulse to the sacral nerve; an electrical lead implanted on the sacral nerve, and a programmer used to control the electrical pulse delivered by the neurostimulator.

To see if the device would work, Debra first underwent a two-week test. Because the test was successful, she had surgery to permanently implant the device.