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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004 Mar 1;19(5):481-95.

Review article: the management of pelvic floor disorders.

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University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Anorectal disorders, such as faecal incontinence, defecation difficulty and conditions associated with anorectal pain, are commonly encountered in the practices of gastroenterologists, urogynaecologists and colorectal surgeons. The evaluation of these disorders has been very much improved by the development and wider availability of diagnostic tests, such as manometry, endo-anal ultrasound, static and dynamic pelvic magnetic resonance imaging and electromyography. After briefly reviewing the normal anatomy and physiology of the anorectum, the pathophysiology and diagnostic approaches to faecal incontinence, defecation disorders and functional anorectal pain are discussed. Until recently, the management of these disorders has been largely anecdotal. However, our therapeutic armamentarium has been expanded by pharmacological agents, such as nitrates, calcium channel blockers and botulinum toxin, as well as the development of novel techniques, such as sacral nerve stimulation. These and other pharmacological, behavioural and surgical approaches are reviewed with respect to the robustness of evidence to support their efficacy in patients with these disorders.

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