Pudendal neuropathy and severity of incontinence but not presence of an anal sphincter defect may determine the response to biofeedback therapy in fecal incontinence

Abstract

PURPOSE: It has been suggested that the severity of fecal incontinence, the presence of pudendal neuropathy, or an external anal sphincter defect does not preclude clinical improvement with biofeedback therapy. A discrepancy, however, is frequently found between subjective improvement and objective results after biofeedback therapy. Our aim was to assess whether severity of fecal incontinence, presence of pudendal neuropathy, or an external anal sphincter defect could influence the results of manometric parameters after biofeedback therapy in patients with fecal incontinence. METHODS: Biofeedback therapy was used to treat 27 patients with fecal incontinence (25 women; mean age, 53; range, 29–74 years), according to a strict protocol. Manometry, pudendal nerve terminal motor latency, and anal ultrasound were performed in all patients before biofeedback therapy. Manometric evaluation of external anal sphincter function was performed after the biofeedback sessions. RESULTS: Eight of 27 patients had a good clinical response to biofeedback, but with no significant difference in their mean amplitude and duration of squeeze pressure before and after biofeedback. There was no relationship between the clinical results of biofeedback therapy and the initial severity of fecal incontinence, pudendal neuropathy, or external sphincter defect. Patients with severe incontinence (incontinence to solids) and pudendal neuropathy failed to improve the amplitude and duration of their maximum voluntary contraction after biofeedback therapy. Patients with mild fecal incontinence (incontinence to flatus, liquids, or both) (P<0.04), without pudendal neuropathy (P<0.02), or with (P<0.05) and without (P<0.05) external sphincter defect improved their external anal sphincter function after biofeedback therapy. CONCLUSION: In patients with fecal incontinence, the severity of symptoms and pudendal neuropathy should be considered as two factors of poor prognosis of favorable manometric results after biofeedback therapy. Improvement, on the other hand, may be expected after biofeedback therapy despite an external anal sphincter defect.

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Correspondence to Dr. Anne-Marie Leroi M.D..

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Leroi, AM., Dorival, MP., Lecouturier, MF. et al. Pudendal neuropathy and severity of incontinence but not presence of an anal sphincter defect may determine the response to biofeedback therapy in fecal incontinence. Dis Colon Rectum 42, 762–769 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02236932

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Key words

  • Biofeedback
  • Incontinence
  • Pudendal neuropathy
  • Anal endosonography