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Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2011 Feb;25(1):29-41. doi: 10.1016/j.bpg.2010.12.002.

Coexistence of constipation and incontinence in children and adults.

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Center for Motility and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Children's Hospital Boston, 300 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115, United States.


The coexistence of constipation and fecal incontinence has long been recognised in paediatric and geriatric populations, but is grossly underappreciated in the rest of the adult population. In children, functional fecal incontinence is usually associated with constipation, stool retention and incomplete evacuation, and is frequently allied to urinary incontinence. Pathophysiology of the incontinence is incompletely understood, although both in children and adults, it is thought to be secondary to overflow, while in adults it may also be related to pelvic floor dysfunction and denervation. Incontinence has an important impact on quality of life and daily functioning, and in children may be associated with behaviour problems. The treatment of underlying constipation usually results in improvement in incontinence. This review broadly addresses the epidemiology and pathophysiology of coexistent constipation and incontinence in both children and adults, and also reviews clinical presentation and treatment response in pediatrics.

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