Faecal incontinence is an inability to control bowel movements, which means that stools (faeces) can leak uncontrollably from the rectum. It can be a devastating problem and is very common. It is estimated that 1% of all adults in England have regular episodes of faecal incontinence affecting men and women of all ages. Sadly many people go untreated because they are too embarrassed to ask for help.

If you have bowel incontinence, the recommended treatment plan will depend on the underlying causes of your condition and the pattern of your symptoms. After careful and complete assessment of the conditon and its cause treatment initially with the least invasive methods can be recommended. Dietary changes, medication and exercise programmes including pelvic floor ecercises and bowel retraining or biofeedback are individually tailored.

Surgery is usually only recommended for the treatment of bowel incontinence after all other treatment options have been tried and failed. Methods include repair to a damaged sphincter, injection of bulking agents and sacral nerve stimulation.

Sacral nerve stimulation uses a small device surgically implanted under the skin. Electrical stimulation of the nerves that pass through the lower back can help control muscle reactions, reflexes and sensations, and as a result improve continence. There are two phases to the treatment. First is a testing phase then the permanent implant phase (carried out only if test phase shows a response).