MEDICAL POLICY

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Transanal Radiofrequency Treatment of Fecal Incontinence

Number 2.01.58

Effective Date November 20, 2014

Revision Date(s) 11/10/14; 11/11/13; 01/14/13; 01/06/12; 06/13/11; 05/11/10; 05/12/09; 03/11/08; 12/12/06; 02/14/06; 06/14/05; 02/08/05; 07/13/04; 10/16/03

Replaces N/A

Policy

Transanal radiofrequency therapy is considered investigational as a treatment of fecal incontinence.

Related Policies

2.01.38

Transesophageal Endoscopic Therapies for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

7.01.69

Sacral Nerve Neuromodulation/Stimulation

Policy Guidelines

The Secca procedure may be performed on an outpatient basis using conscious sedation and a local anesthetic.

Coding

CPT

0288T

Anoscopy, with delivery of thermal energy to the muscle of the anal canal (e.g., for fecal incontinence)

Description

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 and improving continence. This procedure is very similar in concept to the Stretta® procedure for treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Background

RF energy is a commonly used surgical tool that has been used for tissue ablation and more recently for tissue remodeling. For example, RF energy has been investigated as a treatment of GERD, i.e., the Stretta® procedure, in which RF lesions are designed to alter the biomechanics of the lower esophageal sphincter; in orthopedic procedures to remodel the joint capsule; or in an intradiscal electrothermal annuloplasty procedure, in which the treatment is intended in part to modify and strengthen the disc annulus. In all of these procedures, nonablative levels of RF thermal energy are used to alter collagen fibrils, which results in a healing response characterized by fibrosis. Recently, RF energy has been explored as a minimally invasive treatment option for fecal incontinence.

Fecal incontinence is the involuntary leakage of stool from the rectum and anal canal. Fecal continence depends on a complex interplay of anal sphincter function, pelvic floor function, stool transit time, rectal capacity, and sensation. Etiologies vary and include injury from vaginal delivery, anal surgery, neurologic disease, and the normal aging process. Estimated prevalence is 8% of the adult population. Medical management includes dietary measures, such as the addition of bulk -producing agents to the diet and elimination of foods associated with diarrhea; antidiarrheal drugs for mild incontinence; Bowel management programs, commonly used in patients with spinal cord injuries; and biofeedback. Surgical approaches primarily include sphincteroplasty, although more novel approaches, such as sacral neuromodulation or creation of an artificial anal sphincter, may be attempted in patients whose only other treatment option is the creation of a stoma. RF energy also 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 and potentially improving continence.

Regulatory Status

In 2002, the Secca™ System (Curon Medical; Sunnyvale, CA) received FDA clearance through the 510(k) process with the following labeled indication:

“The Secca™ System is intended for general use in the electrosurgical coagulation of tissue and is intended for use specifically in the treatment of fecal incontinence in those patients with incontinence to solid or liquid stool at least once per week and who have failed more conservative therapy.” (1)

FDA product code: GEI.

Scope

Medical policies are systematically developed guidelines that serve as a resource for Company staff when determining coverage for specific medical procedures, drugs or devices. Coverage for medical services is subject to the limits and conditions of the member benefit plan. Members and their providers should consult the member benefit booklet or contact a customer service representative to determine whether there are any benefit limitations applicable to this service or supply. This medical policy does not apply to Medicare Advantage.

Benefit Application

N/A

Rationale

This policy was originally created in 2003 and was updated regularly with searches of the MEDLINE database. The most recent literature search was performed for the period through August 19, 2014. Following is the summary of the key literature to date.

No trials comparing transanal radiofrequency (RF) treatment of fecal incontinence with available alternative treatments have been identified. The literature search to date has identified 8 nonrandomized studies on this procedure; 7 studies published between 2003 and 2010, and 1 study published in 2012.

Abbas et al. (2012) published results of their retrospective review of 27 patients who underwent the Secca™ procedure during a 6-year period (2004-2010) at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. (2) Thirty-one procedures were performed for moderate to severe fecal incontinence. Most study patients were women with a mean age of 64 years, and the most common cause of incontinence was obstetrical injury. Median length of symptoms was 3 years. Biofeedback had failed in more than half of patients, and more than 20% of patients had previous surgical intervention to treat incontinence. No major complications occurred after the Secca™ procedure, and minor complications were observed in 5 patients (19%; anal bleeding in 4 and swelling of the vulva in 1). A treatment response was noted in 21 patients (78%); mean Cleveland Clinic Florida Fecal Incontinence (CCF-FI) Score was 16 at baseline and 10.9 3 months postoperatively. Previous studies have suggested that a CCF-FI of greater than 9 indicates a significant impairment of quality of life. (3) However, in the Abbas et al. study, only 6 patients (22%) had a sustained long-term response without any additional intervention, and 14 patients (52%) underwent or are awaiting additional intervention for persistent or recurrent incontinence over a mean follow-up period of 40 months.

In 2003, Efron et al published an open-label, single-arm, non-randomized study of 50 patients who underwent the Secca procedure and were followed -up for 6 months. (4) Patients served as their own controls. The study assessed change in fecal incontinence symptom scores and quality of life between baseline and follow-up. Fecal incontinence was assessed with the CCF-FI score, and quality of life was assessed with the Fecal Incontinence Quality of Life (FIQL) score. Both the CCF-FI and FIQL scores improved in a steady gradual manner over a 6-month period, from 14.6 to 11.1 for the CCF-FI and from 2.5 to 3.1 for the FIQL. Of 44 patients who had an initial baseline CCF-FI score greater than 9, a total of 15 (34%) achieved CCF-FI less than 10 at 6 months. Improvement also was assessed using the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36, focusing on mental and social parameters. Mean social function sub score improved from 64.3 to 34.4, and mental health sub score improved from 65.8 to 73.8. Fourteen-day diary data demonstrated significant improvement in all 9 parameters; for example, days with any fecal incontinence dropped from 10 in a 14-day period to 7. In contrast, there were no differences in objective measures of anal sphincter function, i.e., there were no differences in manometry measures, rectal sensation volumes, pudendal nerve motor latency, or internal or external sphincter defects, as noted on endoanal ultrasound. The authors noted that determining the mechanism of action for the procedure was not an objective of the study. Three significant procedure-related complications occurred during the trial. Two patients developed anal ulceration, and 1 developed bleeding from a hemorrhoidal vein. Twenty-six minor adverse events occurred, including minor bleeding in 5 patients, transient worsening of incontinence in 4 patients, and anal pain in 5 patients.

Felt-Bersma et al. (2007) published results of an uncontrolled study on the Secca procedure in 11 women with fecal incontinence who underwent baseline and post-treatment testing. (5) Six patients (55%) reported improvement; Vaizey Incontinence Questionnaire scores improved 13%, but no changes were observed in anal manometry, rectal compliance measurement, or 3-dimensional anal ultrasound. Postoperative pain was reported to be slight in 8 patients (73%), moderate in 2, and severe in 1. Investigators suggested that this procedure merited further testing and noted that a randomized, controlled trial was underway. Lam et al. (2014) reported 3-year outcomes of this cohort plus 20 other patients who underwent the Secca procedure for fecal incontinence.6 Of the total cohort of 31 patients, 5 (16%) maintained a clinically significant response (defined as ≥50% reduction in Vaizey score) for 6 months, 3 (10%) maintained response for 1 year, and 2 (6%) maintained response for 3 years. Improvements from baseline in anal manometry (increased anorectal pressures or enhanced rectal compliance) were not observed.

Ruiz et al. (2010) reported on 1-year quality-of-life and continence outcomes for a series of 24 patients treated with RF energy for fecal incontinence between 2003 and 2004. (7) Twelve-month results were available for 16 patients (67%). Mean CCF-FI score improved from 15.6 at baseline to 12.9 at 12 months (p=0.035). Mean FIQL Questionnaire score improved in all subsets except for the depression sub score. The authors comment that the actual clinical significance of this improvement needs to be determined.

Three additional very small case series (n=15, 19, 8) were performed outside the United States. (8-10) In 2 of these small trials, no clear benefit was noted for the procedure. Given the small number of studies that have been conducted and the limitations of those trials (i.e., small number of patients, lack of control arm and randomization, inconsistencies with inclusion and exclusion criteria, short -term follow-up), efficacy of RF therapy for fecal incontinence is not supported in the literature.

Ongoing and Unpublished Clinical Trials

A search of ClinicalTrials.gov did not identify any clinical trials of RF treatment of fecal incontinence.

Summary of Evidence

Studies described in this policy include a small number of patients, and estimates of treatment differences are very imprecise. Study follow-up periods are variable and need to be considerably longer in larger numbers of patients to properly evaluate long-term outcomes. No new studies on this procedure have been published since the last update; 3-year follow-up of a small cohort of patients showed decrement in response over time. Multicenter randomized controlled trials with sufficient power are required to evaluate the continuing use of this procedure as an alternative to other surgical interventions or physical therapies or as an adjunct treatment option for fecal incontinence. Given the insufficient evidence available to evaluate the impact of the technology on net health outcome, this surgical procedure is considered investigational.

Practice Guidelines and Position Statements

The United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued guidance on RF treatment for fecal incontinence in 2011. (11) NICE concluded that “evidence on endoscopic radiofrequency therapy of the anal sphincter for [fecal] incontinence raises no major safety concerns. There is evidence of efficacy in the short term, but in a limited number of patients. Therefore, this procedure should only be used with special arrangements for clinical governance, consent and audit or research.” (11)

The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, in their 2007 practice parameters for the treatment of fecal incontinence, classified the Secca™ procedure as a potentially useful treatment intervention for selected patients with moderate fecal incontinence. (12) This statement was based on level IV evidence (grade of recommendation C) because of the limited data available on this treatment modality.

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations

RF treatment of fecal incontinence is not a preventive service.

Medicare National Coverage

There is no national coverage determination (NCD). In the absence of an NCD, coverage decisions are left to the discretion of local Medicare carriers.

References

  1. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 510(k) Summary. Attachment 14. 2002. Available at: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cdrh_docs/pdf/k014216.pdf. Accessed July 2014.
  2. Abbas MA, Tam MS, Chun LJ. Radiofrequency treatment for fecal incontinence: is it effective long-term? Dis Colon Rectum 2012; 55(5):605-610.
  3. Rothbarth J, Bemelman WA, Meijerick WJ, et al. What is the impact of fecal incontinence on the quality of life. Dis Colon Rectum 2001; 44(1):67-71.
  4. Efron JE, Corman ML, Fleshman J, et al. Safety and effectiveness of temperature-controlled radio-frequency energy delivery to the anal canal (Secca procedure) for the treatment of fecal incontinence. Dis Colon Rectum 2003; 46(12):1606-1618.
  5. Felt-Bersma RJ, Szojda MM, Mulder CJ. Temperature-controlled radiofrequency energy (SECCA) to the anal canal for the treatment of faecal incontinence offers moderate improvement. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2007; 19(7):575-580.
  6. Lam TJ, Visscher AP, Meurs-Szojda MM, Felt-Bersma RJ. Clinical response and sustainability of treatment with temperature-controlled radiofrequency energy (Secca) in patients with faecal incontinence: 3 years follow-up. Int J Colorectal Dis 2014;29(6):755-761.
  7. Ruiz D, Pinto RA, Hull TL, Efron JE, Wexner SD. Does the radiofrequency procedure for fecal incontinence improve quality of life and incontinence at 1-year follow-up? Dis Colon Rectum 2010; 53(7):1041-1046.
  8. Lefebure B, Tuech JJ, Bridoux V, et al. Temperature-controlled radiofrequency energy delivery (Secca procedure) for the treatment of fecal incontinence: results of a prospective study. Int J Colorectal Dis 2008; 23(10):993-997.
  9. Takahashi-Monroy T, Morales M, Garcia-Osogobio S, et al. SECCA procedure for the treatment of fecal incontinence: results of five-year follow-up. Dis Colon Rectum 2008; 51(3):355-359.
  10. Kim DW, Yoon HM, Park JS, Kim YH, Kang SB. Radiofrequency energy delivery to the anal canal: is it a promising new approach to the treatment of fecal incontinence? Am J Surg 2009; 197(1):14-18.
  11. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). IPG393 Endoscopic radiofrequency therapy of the anal sphincter for faecal incontinence. 2011. Available at: http://www.nice.org.uk/resource/IPG393/html/p/ipg393-endoscopic-radiofrequency-therapy-of-the-anal-sphincter-for-faecal-incontinence-clinical-audit-tool?id=v4zjdzkgbwi7ypqgijnhjkcsam. Accessed July 2014.
  12. Tjandra JJ, Dykes SL, Kumar RR, et al. Practice parameters for the treatment of fecal incontinence. Dis Colon Rectum 2007; 50(10):1497-1507.
  13. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) Medical Policy Manual, Transanal Radiofrequency Treatment of Fecal Incontinence. Medical Policy Reference Manual, Policy 2.01.58, 2014

Coding

Codes

Number

Description

CPT

0288T

Anoscopy, with delivery of thermal energy to the muscle of the anal canal (e.g., for fecal incontinence)

 

46999

Unlisted procedure, anus

Type of Service

Medicine

 

Place of Service

Physician Office

 

Appendix

N/A

History

Date

Reason

10/16/03

Add to Medicine Section - New Policy

07/13/04

Replace policy - Policy reviewed; rationale/source section updated; references added; no change to policy statement.

02/08/05

Replace policy - Policy reviewed; coding updated; no change to policy statement.

06/14/05

Replace policy - Policy updated with literature review; no change to policy statement.

02/14/06

Replace policy - Policy updated with literature review; no change to policy statement.

06/16/06

Update Scope and Disclaimer - No other changes.

12/12/06

Replace policy - Policy updated with literature review; no change to policy statement.

03/11/08

Replace policy - Policy updated with literature search; no change to the policy statement. References updated.

05/12/09

Replace policy - Policy updated with literature search; no change to the policy statement. References updated.

05/11/10

Replace policy - Policy updated with literature search; no change to the policy statement.

06/13/11

Replace policy - Policy updated with literature review, reference number 8 added, no change in policy statement. ICD-10 codes added to policy; code C9716 also added.

01/06/12

Replace policy – Policy updated with literature review through August 2011; references reordered; no change in policy statement.

09/28/12

Update Related Policies – Add 7.01.69; ICD-10 codes are now effective 10/01/2014.

01/29/13

Replace policy. Policy guidelines updated with information clarifying The Secca® Procedure as a type of RF energy. Rationale section updated based on a literature review through September 2012. References 2, 10 and 11 added; other references reordered. CPT code 0288T added; HCPCS code C9716 removed, as it was deleted on 12/31/11. Update Related Policy title 2.01.64, and remove 7.01.82 as it was archived. Policy statement unchanged.

12/04/13

Replace Policy. Policy updated with literature review through August 1, 2013; no new references added; no change in policy statement.

09/16/14

Update Related Policies. Remove 2.01.64 as it was archived.

11/20/14

Annual Review. Policy updated with literature review through August 19, 2014; reference 6 added; no change in policy statement. ICD-9 and ICD-10 diagnosis and procedure codes remove; they do not relate to adjudication of this policy.


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