Management of Fecal Incontinence in Children Without Functional Fecal Retention

Licia Pensabene, Samuel Nurko
Current Treatment Options in Gastroenterology 2004, 7 (5): 381-390
The management of the fecal incontinence in children is difficult, and its social consequences are usually devastating. The general objectives of any bowel program are to produce social continence, predictability, and eventually independence. How to achieve those goals depends in part on the underlying condition. In children, fecal incontinence can occur from a variety of conditions. The most common is overflow incontinence from functional fecal retention, but it can also occur in otherwise healthy children with functional nonretentive fecal soiling or in children with organic causes of fecal incontinence, such as congenital malformations, or any other condition affecting the anorectum, anal sphincters, or the spinal cord. The therapeutic regimen that is recommended in patients with nonretentive fecal soiling consists of explanation and support for the child and parents, a nonaccusatory approach, and a toilet training program with a rewarding system. Biofeedback does not play an important role, and laxatives need to be used with caution, as they may exacerbate the incontinence. For those patients with congenital/neuropathic incontinence a combination of maneuvers to change stool consistency, colonic transit, anorectal function, and rectosigmoid evacuation is used. Stool consistency can be changed with the use of dietary interventions or medications. Stool transit can be slowed (antimotility agents) or accelerated (laxatives) with the use of medications. Anorectal function can be improved with the use of biofeedback or procedures to alter sphincter pressure, and the production of a bowel movement can be induced with maneuvers to empty the sigmoid (suppositories, enemas). With the recent advent of the Antegrade Colonic Enema (ACE), the patient is then able to be predictable and independent. This procedure creates a continent conduit from the skin to the cecum that can be catheterized or accessed for self-administration of enemas. The ACE has revolutionized the treatment of children with fecal incontinence.

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