Gastroenterology clinic

How I deal with faecal incontinence

Tony Eyers



Faecal incontinence is more common than many doctors expect. This month, Dr Tony Eyers outlines his approach for helping patients with this potentially distressing problem.

Article Extract

  • Minor forms of faecal incontinence are very common and not always reported by patients.
  • A loss of anal sphincter function will ultimately manifest itself as uncontrolled bowel motions or urgency. The patient’s regularity and ability to cope often determine which symptom dominates.
  • Patients who have faecal soiling but are confident about their ability to hold on to a bowel motion or flatus tend to have simple anal pathology (such as haemorrhoids) rather than a deficient anal sphincter.
  • Most idiopathic faecal incontinence is due to pudendal neuropathy, which is often believed to have been acquired during childbirth.