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A Journal on Gastroenterology, Nutrition and Dietetics

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Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica 2009 September;55(3):379-84

language: English

Fecal incontinence: up to date on pathophysiology and treatment

Altomare D. F., Rinaldi M., Cuccia F., Lemma M., Giuratrabocchetta S., Giuliani R. T., De Fazio M.

Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, General Surgery and Liver Transplantation Unit University of Bari, Bari, Italy


This study analyzes the most recent insight into the pathophysiology of fecal incontinence considering each of the factors contributing to the mechanism of fecal continence both during urgency to defecate and in resting state. In fact different types of incontinence are caused by different damage to one or more of these physiologic factors. The second part of the study focuses on the therapeutic choices of fecal incontinence. The recent introduction of sacral nerve electrostimulation and the progressive broadening of its clinical indications is progressively replacing and challenging other traditional surgical techniques because of their disappointing long-term results and because they are much more invasive. An emerging new treatment based on the injection of anal bulking agents is nowadays even more preferred for the less severe cases of fecal incontinence. An increasing number of materials is now proposed by the industry in order to identify the best biocompatible material to be injected trans-anally. Traditional surgery could be reserved for patients non-responding to these new treatments.

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