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Health Spotlight: Sacral stimulators change lives

Health Spotlight: Sacral stimulators change lives

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Fecal incontinence is heartbreakingly embarrassing for those who suffer from it, but now, there’s renewed hope with the “Sacral Stim,” an implanted, remote-controlled device, sending pulses to the bowel. It’s a life-changer, especially for young people like Kristy Pratt, who endured rectal cancer.

Remote-controlled sacral stimulators send electrical signals to weak bowels, giving back control to those with fecal incontinence.

“Patients are being told that it’s part of the aging process, ‘You’re getting old; it’s just something you have to live with,’ and, it’s, honestly, not true,” said Mario Alcantara, MD, Colorectal Surgeon at Baptist Health System.

Kristy Pratt was just 49 when rectal cancer meant chemo, surgery, and radiation.

“I have to say that radiation for having rectal cancer radiation can be very humiliating, and humbling!,” said Kristy.

Then, fecal incontinence struck and Kristy needed a colostomy bag. So, when Dr. Alcantara told her that she might be to not have the bag, she was all in.

Sacral stim is performed with the patient lying on their belly.

“So, what I’m doing is putting a needle in that little hole, and I’m touching the nerve. I get a wire, the size of most patient’s hair, through that wire, needle, and pull that needle out and that wire is just touching that tree trunk,” said Alcantara.

The tree trunk includes only the nerves controlling the bladder and bowel – nothing else. It takes five minutes and lasts a lifetime, helping 97% of patients.

Kristy says, “Now I swim, and I go fishing with my husband.”

“It’s allowed me to, not just treat cancers, but more importantly, give them a quality of life,” said Alcantara.

Alcantara says a very short test before the implantation will prove whether or not your incontinence is caused from a nerve issue, or something else. There are alternatives and he advises you to talk with your doctor.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.