After rectal surgery, some patients experience problems controlling their bowel movements (fecal incontinence) or have other bowel symptoms such as urgency, the feeling of incomplete bowel emptying, or frequent bowel movements. The purpose of this study is to see if a device called Interstim, a form of “sacral neuromodulation,” can help improve bowel function in these patients. The device is implanted in the lower back, near the base of the spine, and electrically stimulates the nerve involved in bowel function — much like a pacemaker.
Patients will be randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group will have four weeks of the device being turned on and then two weeks off, while the other group will have the device off for the first six weeks. During the next four weeks of the study, those in the first group will have the device turned off and those in the second group will have the device turned on, to see if any “placebo effect” is influencing how patients are doing. Then all patients will have the device turned on at the end of the study to a setting that works for them.