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Br J Surg. 1989 Oct;76(10):1058-60.

Anterior sphincter plication and levatorplasty in the treatment of faecal incontinence.

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Department of Surgery, Bristol Royal Infirmary, UK.


The surgical treatment of faecal incontinence has been traditionally divided into sphincteroplasty for sphincter disruption and postanal repair for idiopathic cases. However, many studies have failed to show a correlation between outcome and change in the anorectal angle. This study was carried out to determine the effectiveness of anterior sphincteroplasty and levatorplasty in the treatment of faecal incontinence, regardless of aetiology. Thirty consecutive patients underwent surgery, 14 with traumatic sphincter injuries and 16 with idiopathic faecal incontinence. A satisfactory clinical result was obtained in ten (71 per cent) patients in the traumatic group and in ten (62 per cent) in the idiopathic group. This was associated with a significant increase in maximum voluntary contraction pressure in the traumatic group and in those patients who had a good result in the idiopathic group (traumatic: preoperative median 80 cmH2O (range 50-115 cmH2O) versus postoperative 115 cmH2O (75-290 cmH2O), P less than 0.005; idiopathic: preoperative 105 cmH2O (45-190 cmH2O) versus postoperative 120 cmH2O (45-230 cmH2O), P less than 0.05; Wilcoxon paired signed ranks test). There was also significant improvement in anal sensation in the upper anal canal in both groups (traumatic: preoperative mean 17 mA versus postoperative 11 mA, P less than 0.05; idiopathic: preoperative 24 mA versus postoperative 9 mA, P less than 0.02). The anorectal angle increased in the idiopathic group at rest (preoperative median 105 degrees (range 86-152 degrees) versus postoperative 118 degrees (95-180 degrees), P less than 0.05). In conclusion, the type of approach (anterior or posterior) and the anorectal angle are irrelevant to the outcome of surgery for idiopathic faecal incontinence. Success appears to be related more to improved sphincter pressure and anal sensation.

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