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Dis Colon Rectum. 1990 Jun;33(6):479-85; discussion 485-6.

Anorectal function investigations in incontinent and continent patients. Differences and discriminatory value.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Free University Hospital, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Anal manometry, rectal capacity measurement, and the saline-infusion test were performed in 350 patients, 178 of whom had fecal incontinence and 172 of whom were continent. Anal manometry was also performed in 80 control subjects, whose results were compared with the patients. Women and older patients exhibited lower pressures. Compared with continent patients, incontinent patients had lower anal sphincter pressures at rest and during squeeze, a smaller rectal capacity, and leaked earlier and more with the saline infusion test. Differentiation between incontinent and continent patients was not possible with a single test because there was complete overlap. The maximum squeeze pressure showed the best discrimination. Combining the three tests did not show better discrimination than any individual test. Anal pressure and rectal capacity below the normal range only were found in very few incontinent patients. The authors' study demonstrates that no prediction can be made about continence with anorectal function tests. Therefore, in the individual patient, an abnormal result in one test must be interpreted with caution and only in relationship with other tests, especially when therapeutic surgery is considered.

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