Nerve stimulation for Urinary and Faecal Incontinence (PTNS)

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Nerve stimulation for Urinary and Faecal Incontinence (PTNS)

PTNS involves sending a small electric signal to the nerves controlling the bowel and the muscles of the back passage. It is achieved by using a small needle (very much like an acupuncture needle) and inserting it behind the ankle where the tibial nerve runs. This nerve shares some of the nerve roots that supply your back passage. The needle is connected to an electric stimulator and it will send signals back up the nerve to help regulate your symptoms.

PTNS is a course of treatment. It will mean that you will need to attend the hospital every week, for 12 weeks for roughly 45 minutes each time.  However if a session has to be missed we can add it on at the end.

During this time you will feel electrical sensations in your ankle and foot, your foot and toes may move also. This tells us we are stimulating the right place. Once a response or sensation is achieved your 30 minute treatment begins. You will be aware of the electric stimulation but it should not be painful and may wear off over the treatment session. The sensation in your leg may last for a few hours after treatment.

There are no known serious complications of nerve stimulation therapy. However, it can sometimes leave some tenderness or bruising around the area where the needle has been inserted, but this is uncommon.

You cannot have PTNS if you are pregnant or intend to become pregnant during the course of treatment. A heart pacemaker means you cannot have PTNS. There are some other considerations such as skin integrity or poor sensations in the leg, ankle and foot which may exclude you from treatment but this will be discussed before your first treatment.

This is a relatively new non-invasive treatment and evidence at the moment shows that it can work in the short term. Long term results will emerge over the next few years. You will be asked to complete some patient questionnaires so that we can measure your progress and help to investigate this treatment further.

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