The treatment of constipation caused by total colonic inertia is problematic and its results are unsatisfactory. We speculated that colonic pacing would initiate electric activity in the inertial colon and effect rectal evacuation.
Nine patients with constipation due to total colonic inertia (age range, 39-52 years; 7 women, 2 men) were enrolled in the study. One pacing electrode was applied to each of the 4 potential colonic pacemaker sites, and 2 to 3 temporary recording electrodes were applied distally. A stimulator was embedded subcutaneously in the inguinal area. Home pacing was practiced after patients were trained; the recording electrodes were removed before home pacing was started.
Colonic pacing evoked electric waves, which effected defecation in 6 of the 9 patients. Three of these 6 patients had spontaneous defecation after a few months of pacing, and their electrodes and stimulators were removed. In the other 3 of these 6 patients, the pacemakers are still in place and continue to effect rectal evacuation. Colonic pacing did not produce rectal evacuation in 3 patients and is believed to have failed because of an advanced stage of colonic inertia.
Colonic pacing induced rectal evacuation in 66.6% of the patients with total colonic inertia. No complications were encountered. We suggest that colonic pacing be considered as a new therapeutic option in the treatment of total colonic inertia.