Gastroenterology clinic

How I deal with faecal incontinence

Tony Eyers
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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.