Functional bowel and anorectal disorders in patients with pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence

John E Jelovsek, Matthew D Barber, Marie Fidela R Paraiso, Mark D Walters
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2005, 193 (6): 2105-11

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was 1) to determine the prevalence of functional bowel and anorectal disorders as defined by the Rome II criteria in patients with advanced pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and urinary incontinence (UI), and (2) to determine if the extent of prolapse on gynecologic examination is related to the subtypes of constipation or any functional anorectal pain disorder.

STUDY DESIGN: Three hundred and two consecutive female subjects presenting to a tertiary urogynecology clinic were enrolled. Demographic, general medical, and physical examination information, including POPQ measurements and a standardized sacral neurologic evaluation, were collected. The prevalence of functional disorders of the bowel, rectum, and anus as defined by the Rome II criteria were collected using the Rome II Modular questionnaire. Relationships of functional disorders to various components of the vaginal examination were reviewed.

RESULTS: Thirty-six percent (108/302) met the criteria for constipation, including the following subtypes: 19% outlet constipation, 5% functional constipation, 5% constipation predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and 7% IBS-outlet. Nineteen percent (56/302) of subjects had IBS or 1 of its subtypes. Functional diarrhea was seen in 6% (17/302), fecal incontinence in 19% (58/302), and anorectal pain disorders in 25% (77/302). After controlling for age, parity, diabetes, constipating medications, and previous pelvic surgery, there were no differences in the prevalence of constipation or any of its subtypes between patients with UI and those with stage 3 or 4 POP. Fecal incontinence was independently associated with UI (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 6.3; 95% CI 2.6-19.1), but not advanced POP. Neither overall stage of POP nor stage of posterior vaginal prolapse was significantly associated with any of the functional bowel disorders, including constipation and its subtypes. Perineal body measurement was significantly longer in patients with outlet type constipation (mean 3.5 +/- 0.6 cm vs 3.1 +/- 0.9 cm, P < .01) and in those with proctalgia fugax (mean 3.4 +/- 1.0 vs 3.1 +/- 0.8, P < .05).

CONCLUSION: There is a high prevalence of constipation and anorectal pain disorders in women with urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. However, patients with stage 3 or 4 pelvic organ prolapse have similar rates of constipation compared with those with urinary incontinence. Constipation and its subtypes are not related to the stage of pelvic organ prolapse. It appears that either constipation is not a significant contributor to prolapse, or constipation contributes equally to the development of both urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.


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