Objective: Pudendal nerve stimulation (PNS) aims to maximize afferent or efferent stimulation from the sacral plexus.
Background: We hypothesized this may be a promising new treatment for patients with bowel dysfunction in complete cauda equina syndrome (CES).
Methods: Thirteen patients with complete CES [8 constipation predominant (group 1) and 5 incontinence predominant (group 2)] had a 3-week trial of PNS. Patients who showed a 50% or more improvement in symptoms during the trial phase proceeded to permanent neurostimulator implantation.
Results: Five (63%) of the 8 patients in group 1 showed a 50% or more improvement in bowel symptoms during the trial phase and were permanently implanted. The mean Cleveland Clinic constipation score, sense of incomplete evacuation (%), and straining during defecation (%) improved from 17 ± 3.2 to 10 ± 4.5, 94 ± 18% to 30 ± 35%, and 81 ± 23% to 44 ± 38%, respectively. All 5 patients in group 2 showed a 50% or more reduction in incontinent episodes during the trial phase. The mean St Mark's score, ability to defer defecation, and the number of incontinent episodes per week improved from 18 ± 1.0 to 3.8 ± 2.5, 2.2 ± 1.8 to 11 ± 5.5 minutes, and 9.4 ± 10.7 to 0.4 ± 0.5 episodes, respectively, per week. During a median follow-up of 12 (10–22) months of permanent implantation, one patient lost efficacy at 6 months due to lead migration and another required removal and reimplantation of the neurostimulator due to wound infection.
Conclusions: PNS is an effective treatment in the short term for bowel dysfunction in some patients with complete CES.