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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Cholestyramine—a useful adjunct for the treatment of patients with fecal incontinence

Jose M Remes-Troche, Ramazan Ozturk, Carrie Philips, Mary Stessman, Satish S C Rao
International Journal of Colorectal Disease 2008, 23 (2): 189-94
17938939

AIM/BACKGROUND: Cholestyramine may improve fecal incontinence, but its use has not been assessed. We report our experience with the use of cholestyramine in the treatment of fecal incontinence.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty-one patients (19 female, mean age 65 years) with fecal incontinence (>/=1 episode/week) received cholestyramine along with biofeedback therapy (group A). Stool frequency, stool consistency (Bristol scale), number of incontinent episodes, satisfaction with bowel function (VAS), and anorectal physiology were assessed at 3 months and at 1 year after treatment. Data were compared with a matched group of 21 incontinent subjects (19 female, mean age 64 years) who received biofeedback alone (group B).

RESULTS: At 3 months and at 1 year, group A patients showed decreased stool frequency (p < 0.01), stool consistency (p = 0.001), and number of incontinent episodes (p < 0.04). In contrast, stool frequency (p = 0.8) and stool consistency (0.23) were not different from baseline in group B subjects. In both groups, there was improvement in the satisfaction with bowel function (p < 0.05), anal sphincter pressures (p < 0.05) and ability to retain saline infusion (p < 0.05). Mean dose of cholestyramine used was 3.6 g; 13 subjects (62%) required dose titration, and 7 (33%) subjects reported minor side effects.

CONCLUSION: Cholestyramine is safe and useful adjunct for the treatment of diarrhea and fecal incontinence. Most patients require small doses, and dose titration is important. The improvement in stool characteristics favors a drug effect, over and above the benefits of biofeedback therapy.

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