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Gastroenterol Clin Biol. 2006 Jan;30(1):37-43.

Prevalence of anal incontinence in adults and impact on quality-of-life.

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  • 1Fédération des Spécialités Digestives, Hôpital Edouard Herriot, Lyon.



To investigate the prevalence of anal incontinence in the general population and in patients consulting gastroenterologist and gynecologist practices in the Rhône Alpes area.


For the first study a questionnaire was sent to a sample of 2800 people selected randomly from the electoral roll. Another study of patients selected randomly among patients attending gynecology and gastroenterology consultations was performed. A Jorge & Wexner score above or equal to 5 was used to define anal incontinence.


For the first study, a total of 706 questionnaires was analyzed: the prevalence of anal incontinence was 5.1% [95% CI: 3.6-7.0] and the scores of each dimension of the SF-12 Health Survey were significantly lower among incontinent people than among continent people. The prevalence was significantly higher for women (7.5% [5.0-10.7]) than for men (2.4% [1.1-4.7]). Eighty-four physicians returned 835 valid questionnaires. The prevalence was 13.1% [10.1-16.6] among patients attending gastroenterology consultations and 5.0% [3.1-7.6] among those attending gynecology consultations. For 84.8% of the incontinent patients, the physician was unaware of the patient's disorder.


The prevalence figures we obtained coincide with data in the literature. This disorder is common and affects the patient's quality-of-life, but remains underestimated and under-diagnosed.

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