Recent trends in diagnosis and treatment of faecal incontinence


Professor S. S. C. Rao, Neurogastroenterology and Motility, Division of Gastroenterology/Hepatology, University of Iowa, 4612 JCP, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 5224, USA.


The inability to control bowel discharge is not only common but extremely distressing. It has a negative impact on a patient's lifestyle, leads to a loss of self-esteem, social isolation and a diminished quality of life. Faecal incontinence is often due to multiple pathogenic mechanisms and rarely due to a single factor. Normal continence to stool is maintained by the structural and functional integrity of the anorectal unit. Consequently, disruption of the normal anatomy or physiology of the anorectal unit leads to faecal incontinence. Currently, several diagnostic tests are available that can provide an insight regarding the pathophysiology of faecal incontinence and thereby guide management. The treatment of faecal incontinence includes medical, surgical or behavioural approaches. Today, by using logical approach to management, it is possible to improve symptoms and bowel function in many of these patients.