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Fecal Incontinence

Fecal incontinence is more common than you think. But you can find the treatment you need at DHI.

Fecal incontinence is the loss of bowel control. There are various degrees of fecal incontinence. According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 1 in 12 U.S. adults has this condition, including both younger and older people. While very common, fecal incontinence often has social implications. Sometimes people are too embarrassed to seek treatment. If you suffer from this condition, the doctors at the Digestive Health Institute can help you find the solution – which may not even require surgery – you need.

Our gastroenterologists and colon and rectal surgeons help patients find permanent treatments for fecal incontinence. There are many effective treatments that are nonsurgical. At DHI, these are tried before surgery is considered. If a patient is still not satisfied with his or her bowel control after trying treatments such as medicine, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes, a DHI colorectal surgeon can help.

Causes of Fecal Incontinence

Anything that weakens the tissues that support the internal organs can cause fecal incontinence.

Some causes of fecal incontinence include:

  • Childbirth, especially with a prolonged, vaginal delivery
  • Injury or disease to the pelvic floor, anus or spinal cord
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Diabetes
  • Having had previous anal surgery

Diagnosing Fecal Incontinence

Certain tests can help doctors know what is causing bowel incontinence. Finding its underlying cause can help them arrive at an optimal treatment plan.

Exams and tests used to diagnose fecal incontinence and determine its cause include:

  • Anoscopy
  • Anorectal manometry
  • Rectal exam
  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • Nerve testing
  • Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy
  • MRI defecography
  • Stool test

Fecal Incontinence Treatments

Thankfully, fecal incontinence is a condition that may be treated with multiple methods.

Nonsurgical ways to treat fecal incontinence include:

  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Medications
  • Bowel training
  • Diet changes

If these methods are tried and the patient still does not have satisfactory bowel control, then surgery may be in order. There are several surgical options provided at DHI that fit patients’ needs depending on their preferences and fecal incontinence cause.

Surgical treatments for fecal incontinence include:

  • Sphincteroplasty is a procedure that repairs a weakened sphincter muscle in the anal canal. The sphincter is what closes off the anus and gives people the ability to control when they will have a bowel movement.
  • Surgical injections of bulking agents, including collagen or silicone, into the anus can help many patients find relief. This is especially the case when combined with diet and lifestyle changes.
  • Surgery to treat prolapse or other rectal issues can relieve fecal incontinence caused by these underlying conditions.
  • Sacral nerve stimulation involves the implantation of InterStim, a device that sends electrical signals to the nerves that control the anal and rectal muscles. By doing so, the muscles are strengthened, which allows them to better hold in gas and fecal matter.
  • Bowel diversion procedures such as colostomy are a way to manage a patient’s condition after all other options have been exhausted. Modern ostomy appliances are odor-free and more discrete than ever before. This makes bowel diversion a good option for some patients.

If you are looking for relief from fecal incontinence, choose the team that can provide the treatment that best fits your needs. Call (813) 615-7557 for an appointment at DHI.



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