Diseases of the Colon & Rectum

, Volume 50, Issue 6, pp 893–898 | Cite as

Proctalgia Fugax: Demographic and Clinical Characteristics. What Every Doctor Should Know from a Prospective Study of 54 Patients

  • Vincent de ParadesEmail author
  • Isabelle Etienney
  • Pierre Bauer
  • Milad Taouk
  • Patrick Atienza


This prospective study was designed to describe a typical attack of proctalgia fugax.


Patients were recruited from May 2003 to June 2004. Whatever the reason for consultation, they were systematically asked: “Do you ever suffer intermittent and recurring anorectal pain lasting for at least three seconds?” If the answer was yes, they were interviewed with a questionnaire and had a proctologic examination. The criterion for proctalgia fugax was a positive answer with a negative examination.


The study included 1,809 patients. Fifty-four of these patients (3 percent) had proctalgia fugax and 83 percent of them had never sought medical advice for this problem. The mean age was 51 (range, 18–87) years. Thirty-seven patients were females (69 percent). The onset of pain was sudden and without a trigger factor in 85 percent of cases. Attacks occurred in the daytime (33 percent) as well as at night (35 percent). The pain was described as cramping, spasm-like, or stabbing in 76 percent of cases. It did not radiate in 93 percent of cases. There were no concomitant symptoms in 81 percent of cases. Attacks stopped spontaneously in 67 percent of cases. The average duration was 15 minutes (range, 5 seconds to 90 minutes). The average annual number of attacks was 13 (range, 1–180).


Proctalgia fugax affects twice as many females as males at approximately aged 50 years. Commonly the roughly once-monthly attack occurs as a sudden pain with no trigger factor, diurnally as often as nocturnally. The nonradiating cramp, spasm, or stabbing pain, without concomitant symptoms, is most severe on average after 15 minutes and declines spontaneously.

Key words

Proctalgia fugax Anorectal pain Attack 



The authors thank Marie Pierre Lang, M.D., for her valuable assistance and Clara for her patience.


  1. 1.
    Myrtle, AS 1883Some common afflictions of the anus often neglected by medical men and patientsBMJ110611062Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Thaysen, TE 1935Proctalgia fugaxLancet2243246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Drossman, DA, Corazziari, E, Talley, NJ, Thompson, WG, Whitehead, WE 2000Rome II. The functional gastrointestinal disorders. Diagnosis, pathophysiology and treatment: a multinational consensus2Degnon AssociatesMcLeanGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bharucha, AE, Wald, A, Enck, P, Rao, S 2006Functional anorectal disordersGastroenterology13015101518PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ibrahim, H 1961Proctalgia fugaxGut2137140PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Boyce, PM, Talley, NJ, Burke, C, Koloski, NA 2006Epidemiology of the functional gastrointestinal disorders diagnosed according to Rome II criteria: an Australian population-based studyIntern Med J362836PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Thompson, WG, Heaton, KW 1980Proctalgia fugaxJ R Coll Physicians Lond14247248PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Drossman, DA, Li, Z, Andruzzi, E,  et al. 1993U.S. householder survey of functional gastrointestinal disorders. Prevalence, sociodemography, and health impactDig Dis Sci3815691580PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Karras, JD, Angelo, G 1951Proctalgia fugaxAm J Surg82616625PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    McEwin, R 1956Proctalgia fugaxMed J Aust43337340PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Pilling, LF, Swenson, WM, Hill, JR 1965The psychologic aspects of proctalgia fugaxDis Colon Rectum8372376PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Thompson, WG 1984Proctalgia fugax in patients with the irritable bowel, peptic ulcer, or inflammatory bowel diseaseAm J Gastroenterol79450452PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Lans, WR 1994Proctalgia fugax: curable after all?Coloproctology16128132Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Eckardt, VF, Dodt, O, Kanzler, G, Bernhard, G 1996Anorectal function and morphology in patients with sporadic proctalgia fugaxDis Colon Rectum39755762PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Takano, M 2005Proctalgia fugax: caused by pudendal neuropathy?Dis Colon Rectum48114120PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gracia Solanas, JA, Ramirez Rodriguez, JM, Elia Guedea, M, Aguilella Diago, V, Martinez Diez, M 2005Sequential treatment for proctalgia fugax. Mid-term follow-up.Rev Esp Enferm Dig97491496PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Jelovsek, JE, Barber, MD, Paraiso, MF, Walters, MD 2005Functional bowel and anorectal disorders in patients with pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence.Am J Obstet Gynecol19321052111PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Douthwaite, AH 1962Proctalgia fugaxBMJ5298164165CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vincent de Parades
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Isabelle Etienney
    • 1
  • Pierre Bauer
    • 1
  • Milad Taouk
    • 1
  • Patrick Atienza
    • 1
  1. 1.Proctologie Médico-InterventionnelleGroupe Hospitalier Diaconesses - Croix Saint SimonParisFrance
  2. 2.Proctologie Médico-InterventionnelleGroupe Hospitalier Diaconesses - Croix Saint SimonParisFrance

Personalised recommendations