Sacral Nerve Stimulation Gives Pediatric Patients Hope
Columbus, OH - Heather Rayser, 16, has a colon that does not function properly and as a result, she has never been to high school, and has been on home hospital care for nine years. Her life is filled with rigidly timed and painful flushes to try to clear her colon, but a procedure recently FDA approved for use in adult cases like Heather’s is being piloted at Nationwide Children’s Hospital to give children like Heather and their families new hope.
Sacral nerve stimulation, sometimes called sacral neuromodulation, is used to help patients desperate to control their bowels or bladder, when other treatment options have failed. During the procedure, surgeons implant a device which addresses communication problems between the brain and the nerves that control bowel and bladder function. If the nerves are not communicating properly, the muscles may not function properly, which leads to incontinence.
“The implanted device delivers mild electrical impulses to the pelvic nerves,” said Dr. Steven Teich, director of the Surgical Neuromodulation Program at Nationwide Children’s. “The pelvic nerves then begin to tell the muscles when to contract, ultimately helping control the ability to urinate or have a bowel movement.”
The first stage of therapy is a test phase, involving the temporary placement of an electrical stimulator. If the patient shows significant improvement in bowel or bladder control during the test phase, the surgeon implants a permanent electrical stimulator, which Heather had implanted in May. The Rayser family is now anxiously waiting to see if the device is the answer Heather has been hoping for to allow her to go back to school and finally be a normal teenager. Continue>
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