The content of this page is intended for healthcare professionals only.

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What is TAI?

For most of us, emptying the bowel is nothing to worry about. However, bowel emptying does not work as smoothly for everyone. When it does becomes an issue, by either spending too long time on the toilet or with bowel leakage, Transanal irrigation (TAI) can be a treatment option.

How does it work?

A rectal catheter with a balloon, or a cone catheter (without balloon), is inserted into the rectum. The balloon is inflated in the rectum and holds the catheter in place while the water is instilled. This initiates the bowel movements (peristalsis) that move the stool towards the rectum. When the water is instilled and the catheter is removed, the bowel can be emptied. 

The procedure is carried out on the toilet. By doing this regularly, the bowel is emptied effectively and stays empty until the next irrigation. This allows you to choose time and place of when to empty the bowel. It gives you back control, securing independence to live the life you prefer, without being afraid of having a bowel accident.

Who is it for?

Treatment with TAI is an option when other treatments like medications and restrictions in diet and fluids have not helped. It is always the healthcare professional who makes the final decision if TAI is suitable for you.

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Succeed with TAI

The factors in succeeding with TAI are:

  • Motivation
  • Realistic expectations 
  • Allowing time for learning and adapting (the initiation period)

Be prepared and give yourself time to adapt to the new routines. Set a realistic time frame, it can take up to 12 weeks before you have found the optimal irrigation routine and have an outcome that is satisfying. 

When the initiation period is over and you have found a routine that works for you, it might be enough to irrigate every second day, but this is highly individual. Your body has to adapt to the treatment: have patience, it is worth it.