Fecal Incontinence

What is Fecal Incontinence?

Fecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements. It causes stool to leak unexpectedly from the rectum. It can range from an occasional leakage while passing gas to a complete loss of bowel control.

It’s experienced by most people during an occasional bout of diarrhea, but some people suffer chronic fecal incontinence.

Fecal incontinence is characterized by sudden leakages of stool. It can be accompanied by other bowel problems, such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Gas and bloating

Fecal incontinence is commonly caused by:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Muscle or nerve damage, usually associated with aging or giving birth
  • Scarring of the rectum
  • Other conditions

There are a number of tests that can be performed to diagnose the cause of fecal incontinence.

They include:

  • Digital rectal exam
    • A test to examine the strength of the muscles in your rectum
  • Balloon expulsion test
    • A test that times the expulsion of material from your rectum
  • Anal manometry
    • This test helps measure the tightness of your anal sphincter and the sensitivity and functioning of your rectum
  • Anorectal ultrasonography
    • A narrow, wand-like instrument is inserted into the anus and rectum, allowing your doctor to evaluate the structure of your sphincter
  • Proctography
    • X-ray video images are made while you have a bowel movement on a specially designed toilet. The test measures how much stool your rectum can hold and evaluates how well your body expels stool
  • Proctosigmoidoscopy
    • An inspection of the colon for signs of inflammation, tumors or scar tissue that may cause fecal incontinence
  • Endorectal ultrasound
    • A special endoscope is inserted to look at the lower colon. It uses sound waves to produce an image
  • Colonoscopy
  • Anal electromyography
    • Can reveal signs of nerve damage
  • MRI

Treatment options include:

  • Anti-diarrheal drugs
  • Laxatives, if chronic constipation is causing your incontinence
  • Medications to decrease the spontaneous motion of your bowel
  • Dietary and lifestyle changes
  • Physical therapy to improve internal sphincter
  • Insertion of a sacral nerve stimulator (INTERSTIM) to improve internal sphincter tone
  • Injection of bulking agents (SOLESTA) in the region of the internal sphincter to create a barrier to leakage
  • Surgery in extreme cases involving underlying issues
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap