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Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2011 Mar;24(1):64-70. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1272825.

Fecal incontinence: etiology, evaluation, and treatment.

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Department of Colon and Rectal Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Florida, Weston, Florida.


Fecal incontinence is a debilitating problem facing ~2.2% of the U.S. general population over 65 years of age. Etiologic factors include traumatic, neurologic, congenital, and iatrogenic. Most commonly, obstetric trauma causes fecal incontinence as well as poorly performed anorectal surgery or pelvic radiation. Several severity scores and quality of life indexes have been developed to quantify incontinent symptoms. There are several nonsurgical and surgical options for the treatment of fecal incontinence. Biofeedback is among the most successful nonoperative strategies. Depending on the cause, anal sphincter repair, artificial bowel sphincter, and sacral nerve stimulation are used to treat fecal incontinence with some success. Unfortunately, fecal incontinence is an extremely difficult problem to manage: there has not been one, single treatment option that has proven to be both safe and effective in long-term studies.


Fecal incontinence; anal sphincter repair; artificial bowel sphincter; biofeedback; sacral nerve stimulation

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