Medical

Magnetic beads effectively "patch" bowel leakage

Magnetic beads effectively "pa...
The FENIX device is fastened around the anal canal
The FENIX device is fastened around the anal canal
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The FENIX device is fastened around the anal canal
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The FENIX device is fastened around the anal canal

Whether you call the condition fecal incontinence or accidental bowel leakage, it still boils down to the same thing – the unintentional loss of stool, due to a damaged or weakened anal sphincter muscle. While non-invasive approaches such as physical therapy can work, sometimes the only course of action is to perform a colostomy. That said, Torax Medical has developed another option, in the form of its FENIX Continence Restoration System. The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida recently became the first US clinic to implant the device.

According to Torax, fecal incontinence affects about 30 million people in the US and Europe alone – many of those are women, whose anal nerves and muscles were injured when they were giving birth. Needless to say, the condition can be quite debilitating, not to mention potentially embarrassing.

The FENIX device takes the form of a string of titanium beads with magnetic cores. In a surgical procedure that takes approximately 45 minutes, that string is fastened around the anal canal, like a bracelet. The healing process takes four to six weeks.

In default mode, magnetic attraction draws the beads together, essentially closing off the canal and keeping stools from unexpectedly coming out. Once sufficient abdominal pressure is intentionally applied by the patient, however, stools are able to temporarily push the beads apart and get through.

The Mayo Clinic implanted the device in four patients back in April, although it just made the announcement this week. Approximately 35 patients have already received the FENIX in Europe, with about 90 percent of them reporting an improvement of at least 50 percent in stool loss.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, Torax Medical

4 comments
MD
this positive benefit still doesn't make it safe to swallow magnets.
MK23666
Same device used to combat GERD
Jay R
Don't sit on a metal chair, you may not be able to get up again. Now I got that over with....Genius idea. New uses for things that have been around for centuries.
sidmehta
Ummm... wait... about 50% or more reduction... this means the seals are not tight. Good idea, needs re-engineering. Also there should be a way to use the concept of closing your anus without surgery. You know when you need to be opened so maybe a switch or a lever or something. It has to work as a tight seal. There cannot be leakages, period. Other options are to heal the anal nerves and muscles using stem cells if possible.