Home > Journals > Minerva Gastroenterology > Past Issues > Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica 2015 December;61(4) > Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica 2015 December;61(4):249-59



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Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica 2015 December;61(4):249-59


language: English

Pelvic floor dysfunction in inflammatory bowel disease

Bondurri A., Maffioli A., Danelli P.

Department of General Surgery, Luigi Sacco University Hospital, University of Milan, Milan, Italy


Advances in tailored medical therapy and introduction of biologic agents for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) treatment have ensured long-term disease remission. Some patients, however, still report defecatory symptoms. Patients present with a wide spectrum of conditions — anal incontinence, obstructed defecation and pelvic pain among the most frequent — that have a great impact on their quality of life. Due to IBD diagnosis, little relevance is attributed to this type of symptoms and their epidemiologic distribution is unknown. Pathogenetic hypotheses are currently under investigation. Routine diagnostic workflow and therapeutic options in pelvic floor service are often underused. The evaluation of these disorders starts with an endoscopy to rule out ongoing disease; the following diagnostic workflow is the same as in patients without IBD. For fecal incontinence and obstructed defecation, simple conservative therapy with dietary modifications and appropriate fluid intake is effective in most cases. In non-responding patients, anorectal physiology tests and imaging are required to select patients for pelvic floor muscle training and biofeedback. These treatments have been proven effective in IBD patients. Some new minimally invasive alternative strategies are available for IBD patients, as sacral nerve and posterior tibial nerve stimulation; for other ones (e.g., bulking agent implantation) IBD still remains an exclusion criterion. In order to preserve anatomical areas that could be useful for future reconstructive techniques, surgical options to cure pelvic floor dysfunction are indicated only in a small group of IBD patients, due to the high risk of failure in wound healing and to the possible side effects of surgery, which can lead to anal incontinence or to a possible proctectomy. A particular issue among defecatory symptoms in patients with IBD is paradoxical puborectalis contraction after restorative proctocolectomy: if this disorder is properly diagnosed, a conservative treatment is indicated, thus avoiding unnecessary laparotomy for small bowel occlusion. Pelvic pain management, coordinated by a specialist with expertise in pelvic floor disorders, includes many options, which vary from oral or local therapies to pelvic floor rehabilitation and sacral nerve stimulation. Surgical procedures often have unsatisfactory outcomes. Diagnosis and investigation of anorectal functional disorders in patients with IBD is important in order to implement better-suited diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, so as to avoid unnecessary and potentially detrimental medical and surgical therapies, with the final aim of improving patients’ quality of life.

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