Transrectal electrostimulation therapy for neuropathic bowel dysfunction in children with myelomeningocele

Lane S. Palmer*, Ingrid Richards, William E. Kaplan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Purpose: We attempted to evaluate the efficacy of transrectal bowel stimulation for neurogenic bowel dysfunction in children with myelodysplasia. Materials and Methods: Daily sessions of transrectal electrostimulation were performed on an outpatient basis for 2 to 3 weeks on children with myelodysplasia and stool incontinence. If benefits were noted, 5 to 10 additional daily sessions were performed. Complete success was defined as improvement in all parameters of interest, including decrease in the frequency of daily bowel movements, increased sensation, increased ability to hold stool and a significant subjective change in bowel habits. Moderate success implied improvement in 1 to 3 parameters and treatment failure was defined as lack of improvement in any parameter. Results: A total of 55 children 2 to 14 years old (mean age 6.7) completed a mean of 18 daily sessions per patient of bowel electrostimulation. Followup ranged from 1 to 6 years. Diapers are no longer required due to defecation problems in 14 children older than 3 years. Complete success was achieved in 20 cases (36.3%) and moderate success in an additional 30 (54.5%, overall success rate 90.8%). Specifically, 89% of the patients reported elimination of stooling accidents, 82% reported increased sensation and 71% were able to hold the bowel movement. Overall 68% of the patients noticed significantly improved bowel function. Complete/moderate success of transrectal electrostimulation was statistically significant for all 4 parameters (p <0.05), and complete success was significant for increased sensation, ability to hold and episodes of accidents. Therapy failed in 5 children (9%). There were no untoward effects. Conclusions: Transrectal electrostimulation is a well tolerated and minimally invasive modality that provides sustainable improvement in stool continence in children with myelomeningocele and neuropathic bowel dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1449-1452
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1997


  • electric stimulation
  • fecal incontinence
  • meningomyelocele

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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