Medical Policy: 02.01.51
Original Effective Date: September 2013
Reviewed: June 2016
Revised: June 2016
Benefit determinations are based on the applicable contract language in effect at the time the
services were rendered. Exclusions, limitations or exceptions may apply. Benefits may vary
based on contract, and individual member benefits must be verified. Wellmark determines medical
necessity only if the benefit exists and no contract exclusions are applicable. This medical
policy may not apply to FEP. Benefits are determined by the Federal Employee Program.
This Medical Policy document describes the status of medical technology at the time the document was developed. Since that time, new technology may have emerged or new medical literature may have been published. This Medical Policy will be reviewed regularly and be updated as scientific and medical literature becomes available.
Fecal incontinence refers to the involuntary loss of gas or liquid stool (called minor incontinence) or the involuntary loss of solid stool (called major incontinence). Continence requires the normal function of both the lower digestive tract and the nervous system. The anal sphincters, along with the pelvic muscles that surround the end of the digestive tract, ensure controlled movement of digestive tract contents. There are many possible causes of fecal incontinence; in most cases, incontinence results from some combination of damage to the anal sphincters, neurologic causes, decreased distensibility of the rectum, fecal impaction and diarrhea. Treatment includes behavior changes, medication, the use of bulking substances, treatment of impaction, nerve stimulation and surgery.
Several agents (Durasphere, silicone biomaterial, etc) have been studied for the treatment of fecal incontinence. To date, only one bulking agent has been approved by the FDA for treating fecal incontinence. This is a formulation of non-animal stabilized hyaluronic acid/dextranomer in stabilized hyaluronic acid (NASHA Dx) and is marketed by Q-Med as Solesta. Solesta is a sterile gel that is injected into the anal canal. It is composed of naturally made materials, dextranomer and sodium hyaluronate. Solesta is classified as a medical device (injectable bulking agent) and not a drug.
Radiofrequency (RF) energy has been investigated as a minimally invasive treatment of fecal incontinence, a procedure referred to as the Secca procedure. In this outpatient procedure using conscious sedation, RF energy is delivered to the sphincteric complex of the anal canal to create discrete thermal lesions. Over several months, these lesions heal and the tissue contracts, changing the tone of the tissue.
Electrical stimulation with a non-implantable stimulator is delivered generally by anal probes connected to an external pulse generator. The electrical stimulation is controlled via a probe wired to a device. A variation in the amplitude and frequency of the electrical pulse is used to mimic and stimulate the different physiologic mechanisms of the voiding response, depending on the type of etiology of incontinence. The Urgent PC Neuromodulation System is not FDA-cleared for the treatment of fecal incontinence. The company’s website states that the treatment can be used for this condition and that the recommended initial course of treatment includes 12 weekly sessions. In February 2014, the InTone®MV (InControl Medical, Brookfield, WI), a nonimplantable device that provides electrical stimulation and/or biofeedback via manometry, was cleared by FDA. The device is intended for the treatment of geno typical male and geno typical female urinary and fecal incontinence.
The procedure for PTNS consists of the insertion of a needle above the medial malleolus into the posterior tibial nerve followed by the application of low voltage (10mA, 1–10 Hz frequency) electrical stimulation that produces sensory and motor responses (i.e., a tickling sensation and plantar flexion or fanning of all toes). Noninvasive PTNS has also been delivered with surface electrodes.
"Current evidence on the safety and efficacy of injectable bulking agents for faecal incontinence does not appear adequate for this procedure to be used without special arrangements for consent and for audit or research, which should take place in the context of a clinical trial or formal audit protocol that includes information on well-defined patient groups."
Note: See the related policy, Anorectal Biofeedback number 02.01.04.
The above treatments for fecal incontinence lack demonstration of efficacy and long term effects at this time. There remains a lack of information regarding the predictive factors for successful treatment selection at this time.
Wellmark medical policies address the complex issue
of technology assessment of new and emerging treatments, devices,
drugs, etc. They are developed to
assist in administering plan benefits and constitute neither offers of
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and, therefore, cannot guarantee any results or outcomes.
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advice and treatment of members. Our medical policies may be updated
and therefore are subject to change without notice.
*Current Procedural Terminology © 2012 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.