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Dig Dis Sci. 2010 Sep;55(9):2606-13. doi: 10.1007/s10620-010-1190-9.

Urinary and fecal incontinence after bariatric surgery.

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  • 1University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI 53705, USA.



Morbidly obese women have markedly high rates of urinary and fecal incontinence. Weight loss reduces prevalence and severity of urinary incontinence; however, the effect of weight loss on fecal incontinence is unknown.


The aim of this study was to document the prevalence of urinary and fecal incontinence in subjects who underwent bariatric surgery and associated weight loss.


We mailed a detailed survey to all 404 adults who underwent bariatric surgery at the University of Wisconsin prior to May 2006. Type and severity of urinary and fecal incontinence was obtained using previously validated questionnaires. Perceived effect of surgery on bowel and bladder function was also assessed.


Forty-eight percent (193) of the surveys were returned. Urinary incontinence was reported in 72% of the women, 39% of whom perceived improvement after surgery. Only 21% of the men reported urinary incontinence. In contrast, fecal incontinence was common in both men and women; 48% of the women and 42% of the men reported liquid stool incontinence and 21% of the women and 30% of the men reported solid stool incontinence. Fifty-five percent of the women and 31% of the men with fecal incontinence perceived worsening after surgery. Women with diarrhea were four times more likely to report fecal incontinence (P<0.0001). Furthermore, women who perceived worsening of diarrhea after surgery were significantly more likely to have fecal incontinence (P=0.003).


Both fecal and urinary incontinence were common after bariatric surgery. Risk factors for fecal incontinence in women after bariatric surgery include diarrhea and worsening of diarrhea; we suggest that such surgery may uncover prior weaknesses in the continence mechanism.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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