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World J Gastroenterol. 2006 Nov 28;12(44):7069-74.

Biofeedback therapy for dyssynergic defecation.

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  • 1Divisione di Riabilitazione Gastroenterologica dell, Universitade Verona, Azienda Ospedaliera di Verona, Centro Ospedaliero Clinicizzato, 37067 Valeggio sul Mincio (VR), Italy. chiarioni@tin.it


Dyssynergic defecation is one of the most common forms of functional constipation both in children and adults; it is defined by incomplete evacuation of fecal material from the rectum due to paradoxical contraction or failure to relax pelvic floor muscles when straining to defecate. This is believed to be a behavioral disorder because there are no associated morphological or neurological abnormalities, and consequently biofeedback training has been recommended for treatment. Biofeedback involves the use of pressure measurements or averaged electromyographic activity within the anal canal to teach patients how to relax pelvic floor muscles when straining to defecate. This is often combined with teaching the patient more appropriate techniques for straining (increasing intra-abdominal pressure) and having the patient practice defecating a water filled balloon. In adults, randomized controlled trials show that this form of biofeedback is more effective than laxatives, general muscle relaxation exercises (described as sham biofeedback), and drugs to relax skeletal muscles. Moreover, its effectiveness is specific to patients who have dyssynergic defecation and not slow transit constipation. However, in children, no clear superiority for biofeedback compared to laxatives has been demonstrated. Based on three randomized controlled studies in the last two years, biofeedback appears to be the preferred treatment for dyssynergic defecation in adults.

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