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Am J Gastroenterol. 1999 Jun;94(6):1556-63.

Fecal incontinence with normal anal canal pressures: where is the pitfall?

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Gastroenterology Unit, Hôpital Pontchaillou, Rennes, France.



One third of subjects who suffer from fecal incontinence are found to have values within the normal range when anal manometry is performed. For these patients, one hypothesis is that impaired rectal adaptation to distension may occur. The aim of our study was to analyze anorectal responses to rectal isobaric distension in this population.


This was a prospective study conducted in 51 consecutive incontinent patients (45 female, six male) divided into two groups according to their functional anal state: absence (19 patients aged 55 +/- 6 yr) or presence of manometric anal weakness (32 patients aged 59 +/- 2 yr). The subjects were submitted to two randomized modes of rectal isobaric distension (tonic, phasic) with an electronic barostat. Anal pressures, perception, and volumes of the rectum were recorded at six different preselected pressures.


As compared with those having anal weakness, patients with no anal weakness retained higher mean pressures at both upper (36.9 +/- 2.2 vs 22.9 +/- 1.4 mm Hg; p = 0.01) and lower parts (41.0 +/- 2.0 vs 23.3 +/- 1.4 mm Hg; p = 0.002) of the anal canal, similar perception scores, but much lower rectal volumes (68.5 +/- 5.5 vs 121.8 +/- 7.0 ml; p = 0.008) in response to rectal isobaric distension.


A decrease in rectal adaptation could be involved in fecal leakage in patients with no anal manometric weakness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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