This is not the most recent version of the article. View current version (11 JUL 2012)

Intervention Review

Biofeedback and/or sphincter exercises for the treatment of faecal incontinence in adults

  1. Christine C Norton1,*,
  2. June D Cody2,
  3. Gordon Hosker3

Editorial Group: Cochrane Incontinence Group

Published Online: 19 JUL 2006

Assessed as up-to-date: 22 MAY 2006

DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002111.pub2

How to Cite

Norton CC, Cody JD, Hosker G. Biofeedback and/or sphincter exercises for the treatment of faecal incontinence in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD002111. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002111.pub2.

Author Information

  1. 1

    St Mark's Hospital, Physiology Unit, Harrow, Middlesex, UK

  2. 2

    University of Aberdeen, Cochrane Incontinence Review Group, Foresterhill, Aberdeen, UK

  3. 3

    St Mary's Hospital, The Warrell Unit, Manchester, UK

*Christine C Norton, Physiology Unit, St Mark's Hospital, Northwick Park, Watford Road, Harrow, Middlesex, HA1 3UJ, UK.

Publication History

  1. Publication Status: Edited (no change to conclusions)
  2. Published Online: 19 JUL 2006


This is not the most recent version of the article. View current version (11 JUL 2012)



  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Plain language summary
  4. 摘要


Faecal incontinence is a particularly embarrassing and distressing condition with significant medical, social and economic implications. Anal sphincter exercises and biofeedback therapy have been used to treat the symptoms of people with faecal incontinence. However, standards of treatment are still lacking and the magnitude of alleged benefits has yet to be established.


To determine the effects of biofeedback and/or anal sphincter exercises/pelvic floor muscle training for the treatment of faecal incontinence in adults.

Search methods

We searched the Cochrane Incontinence Group Specialised Trials Register (searched 27 February 2006) and the reference lists of relevant articles.

Selection criteria

All randomised or quasi-randomised trials evaluating biofeedback and/or anal sphincter exercises in adults with faecal incontinence.

Data collection and analysis

Two reviewers assessed the methodological quality of eligible trials and two reviewers independently extracted data from included trials. A wide range of outcome measures were considered.

Main results

Eleven eligible studies were identified with a total of 564 participants. In all but three trials methodological quality was poor or uncertain. No study reported a major difference in outcome between any method of biofeedback or exercises and any other method, or compared to other conservative management. There are suggestions that rectal volume discrimination training improves continence more than sham training and that anal biofeedback combined with exercises and electrical stimulation provides more short-term benefits than vaginal biofeedback and exercises for women with obstetric-related faecal incontinence. Further conclusions are not warranted from the available data.

Authors' conclusions

The limited number of identified trials together with their methodological weaknesses do not allow a definitive assessment of the possible role of anal sphincter exercises and biofeedback therapy in the management of people with faecal incontinence. We found no evidence of biofeedback or exercises enhancing the outcome of treatment compared to other conservative management methods. While there is a suggestion that some elements of biofeedback therapy and sphincter exercises may have a therapeutic effect, this is not certain. Larger well-designed trials are needed to enable safe conclusions.


Plain language summary

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Plain language summary
  4. 摘要

Exercises of the muscles around the anus (back passage) with or without biofeedback (aids for knowing when the muscles are contracting) for the treatment of faecal incontinence in adults.

Faecal incontinence (inability to control bowel movements or leaking stool) can be a very embarrassing and socially restricting problem. There are many possible causes, including childbirth damage to the muscles which control bowel movements. Exercises to strengthen these muscles and "biofeedback" (used to show people how to use the muscles properly) are often recommended.

The review found that there is not enough evidence from trials to judge whether these treatments are helpful. Exercises and electrical stimulation used in the anus may be more helpful than vaginal exercises for women with faecal incontinence after childbirth.

The 11 trials reviewed were of very limited value because they were generally small, of poor or uncertain quality, and compare different combinations of treatments.



  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Plain language summary
  4. 摘要


















此翻譯計畫由臺灣國家衛生研究院(National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan)統籌