Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Colorectal function in patients with spinal cord lesions.

PURPOSE: This study was designed to describe the frequency and severity of colorectal problems among patients with spinal cord lesions and to determine whether these problems are associated with age, gender, time since the lesion, and level and severity of the lesion.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: A detailed questionnaire describing colorectal and bladder function was sent to all 589 members of The Danish Paraplegic Association; 424 responded (72 percent).

RESULTS: Only 19 percent felt a normal desire to defecate, whereas the remaining patients felt no desire to defecate (38 percent) or a combination of abdominal discomfort (37 percent) and headache, physical uneasiness, and perspiration (25 percent). Digital stimulation of the anal canal before defecation or digital evacuation of the rectum was used regularly by 65 percent of patients. Fecal incontinence was experienced by 75 percent of patients; however, most patients only had a few episodes of fecal incontinence each month (15 percent) or each year (56 percent). Overall, 39 percent of patients reported that colorectal dysfunction caused some or major restrictions on social activities or on their quality of life, and 30 percent regarded colorectal complaints to be worse than both bladder and sexual dysfunction. The severity of most symptoms was significantly correlated with the severity of the lesion, and the self-reported impact on social activities or quality of life was significantly more severe among women than men.

CONCLUSION: Colorectal dysfunction is very common among spinal cord-injured patients, often causing restriction on social activities and quality of life. Therefore, these problems deserve more attention in the treatment of spinal cord-injured patients.

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