It's time to talk about it
These types of health problems are difficult to discuss, even with your doctor, and you may have thought that a procedure to correct the issue could be worse than the symptoms you're experiencing. You don't have to suffer in silence any longer.
In the past, there were few effective treatments for fecal incontinence. For people with nerve damage and control issues, doctors understood the problem but didn't have a simple solution. Today, the colorectal surgeons with University Surgical Associates offer minimally invasive techniques and advanced technologies to treat ABL and other bowel issues.
Let's talk treatment
The first step is trying conservative management, such as dietary changes, bowel retraining, pelvic muscle exercises, biofeedback or medication. If these therapies don't seem to be working, you may be a candidate for a sacral nerve stimulator (SNS).
"Sacral nerve stimulation is a treatment that uses a small system, surgically placed under the skin, to send mild electrical impulses to a nerve located just above the tailbone through an electrode (wire)," said Shauna Lorenzo-Rivero, MD colorectal surgeon with University Surgical Associates. "These sacral nerves activate or inhibit muscles and organs that contribute to continence. Unlike medications that target the muscular component of bladder or bowel control, SNS offers control of symptoms through direct correction of the nerve activity to provide relief."
Simple and effective
Before deciding whether the SNS therapy is the right treatment, patients meet with a USA colorectal surgeon and undergo testing and a trial assessment, wearing a device designed to stimulate the nerves. If the decision is made to use the actual SNS device, the patient will schedule another appointment for placement.
Implanting the SNS is a simple, outpatient procedure. A small incision is made near the hip and the device is inserted just beneath the skin. A remote control allows the patient to control the sensation for when it's time to go to the bathroom.
"Most people see a 50-90 percent improvement in their symptoms, which is a huge relief," says Dr. Lorenzo. "It means you can leave the house and do the things you love to do without constantly worrying about your proximity to the restroom."
"When you're having 20 bowel movements in a day and without a way of knowing when it's going to happen, it's totally embarrassing and had a really negative impact on my mental health and self-esteem," says Shirley, a USA patient who received the SNS implant. "The SNS device took me out of my own prison and gave me the opportunity to be with my family and do the things I love."
Help personalized for you
Even if ABL isn't the problem you're facing, there are many conditions the experienced colorectal surgeons at USA treat with a range of therapies tailored to your specific needs. This includes pelvic pain, hemorrhoids, ulcerative colitis, anal fissures, diverticular disease, and colon and rectal cancer treatment. USA also offers colonoscopy screenings.
"University Surgical surgeons have pioneered many new procedures in this community using the most cutting edge technologies," said J. Daniel Stanley, MD. "It's our job to stay at the forefront of new surgical options and to teach others the latest techniques. This type of experience is what you'd expect to find in much larger cities, but these solutions are available here in Chattanooga. We have all the tools necessary to provide outstanding and individualized care."
"When you're having 20 bowel movements in a day and without a way of knowing when it's going to happen, it's totally embarrassing and had a really negative impact on my mental health and self-esteem," says Shirley, a patient who received a sacral nerve stimulation implant at University Surgical Associates. "The SNS device took me out of my own prison and gave me the opportunity to do be with my family and do the things I love."
To schedule an appointment to discuss ABL and treatment options, call University Surgical Associates at 423-267-0466. Find information at universitysurgical.com/ABL.