Diagnosis and management of fecal incontinence in elderly patients

T Hirsh, T Lembo
American Family Physician 1996, 54 (5): 1559-64, 1569-70
Fecal incontinence is a physically and psychologically disabling condition that affects millions of Americans, especially those over the age of 65 years. The pathophysiology is often multifactorial, with decreased anorectal sensation, reduced rectal compliance. anal sphincter dysfunction, altered stool consistency and immobility playing significant roles. A detailed history and a thorough physical examination are always necessary in patients with fecal incontinence and physiologic tests, including anorectal manometry, cinedefecography and electromyography, may be required for proper diagnosis and treatment. In most patients fecal incontinence is initially treated with conservative measures, such as biofeedback training or alteration of the stool consistency (if appropriate). If conservative management fails, surgical intervention, such as sphincteroplasty or gracilis muscle transposition, may be considered.


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