Faecal incontinence: New surgical treatment being tested at University Hospital Vienna and MedUni Vienna

Faecal incontinence is a major taboo subject and, if left untreated, usually restricts the quality of life of those severely affected. Under the leadership of surgeon Stefan Riss from the Department of General Surgery at MedUni Vienna and the University Hospital Vienna, a study has been launched into a new surgical treatment method. A new anal band is being tested, which should seal the anus better than previous methods and enable long term controlled bowel movements.

Patients affected by faecal incontinence experience an involuntary loss of digestive gases, intestinal mucus or stool. Approximately six percent of the population over the age of 60 are affected, women significantly more frequent than men due to anatomy and consequences of birth. The therapeutic measures vary and depend on the respective cause. Currently, medications, pelvic floor training and, in certain cases, the insertion of a bowel pacemaker or so-called sphinkeepers, tiny prostheses made of biocompatible material, are used. Now, a new surgical treatment option is being tested as part of a multi-centre study under the direction of Stefan Riss and the collaboration of Christopher Dawoud from the Department of General Surgery at MedUni Vienna and the University Hospital Vienna.

The new anal band, made of elastic material, is surgically implanted around the anal canal. Specially developed by an Austrian medical device company for the treatment of faecal incontinence, the new band seals the anus with permanent pressure, yet allows controlled bowel evacuation at the same time. "The advantage of the new procedure for patients is that the band does not have to be readjusted and thus enables constant control of bowel movements", explains Stefan Riss from the Department of General Surgery and head of the study. The multicentre study began in April 2023 with the first procedure at the University Hospital Vienna. "At our university department, the new anal band was implanted in the first patient worldwide. The procedure went very well and could be performed minimally invasively as planned with only two small, approximately two centimetre long incisions next to the anus", Riss reports.

Within one year, the new treatment method is to be tested on a total of 30 patients at six centres specialising in incontinence in Spain, Germany and Vienna. It will be measured whether the incontinence episodes have decreased after the operation and whether the patients' control over their stool and quality of life has improved. An first assessment is made after the first ten treatments. "The objective is to improve the patient's faecal incontinence permanently", says Riss.

The surgical pelvic floor outpatient ward and the Continence and Pelvic Floor Centre at University Hospital Vienna and MedUni Vienna are available to those affected, where interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary diagnoses and treatment options are provided.


Pelvic Floor Outpatient Ward and Manometry, Department of General Surgery, University Hospital AKH Vienna, Level 7C: beckenboden.meduniwien.ac.at

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