Urology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is the first medical practice in the state – and the fourth in the United States – to offer women a new, non-surgical treatment for accidental bowel leakage. Until now, the device has been offered only through clinical research studies.
Known as Eclipse™, the device is inserted vaginally and restores bowel control through a small balloon that presses against the rectum. The patient uses a small detachable pump to inflate and deflate the balloon.
“We are delighted to offer patients this novel treatment for bowel control,” said Catherine Matthews, M.D., professor of urology and obstetrics and gynecology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, who was part of the clinical study that evaluated the insert prior to approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“The impact of loss of bowel control, even just occasionally, can be devastating to a woman’s well-being,” said Matthews. “Sadly, this is a disorder that few women talk about, even to their physicians. We want women to know that they should discuss it, because there are treatments available. I am thrilled that our first patient has been successfully treated – she had tried and failed multiple other treatment modalities in the past."
According to the National Institutes of Health, about 18 million adults have bowel control problems. The condition, which disproportionately affects women, can occur at any age. In fact, the research study that Matthews was involved in included women between 19 and 75. A major cause of the condition is injury to the sphincters, ring-like muscles that control the passage of stool from the rectum. This can occur during childbirth or as a result of cancer or hemorrhoid surgery. Other causes include nerve damage, spinal cord injury and irritable bowel syndrome.
Treatments for the condition can include medication and bowel training. When these are not effective, surgery to repair a damaged sphincter or to divert stool from the intestine into a pouch are options.
In a clinical trial of women who used the bowel control insert for one month, it was effective in 86 percent of women successfully fitted with the insert. It was associated with an improvement in bowel symptoms and function, including reduced bowel movement frequency, less fecal urgency, increased solid consistency, and improved evacuation in patients with significant fecal incontinence.
Based on her experience in the clinical study, Matthews will soon publish a paper on the clinical characteristics of women who are more likely to be successfully fitted with the new device.