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Management of patients with faecal incontinence

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Faecal incontinence, defined as the involuntary loss of solid or liquid stool, is a common problem affecting 0.8-8.3% of the adult population. Individuals suffering from faecal incontinence often live a restricted life with reduced quality of life. The present paper is a clinically oriented review of the pathophysiology, evaluation and treatment of faecal incontinence. First-line therapy should be conservative and usually include dietary adjustments, fibre supplement, constipating agents or mini enemas. Biofeedback therapy to improve external anal sphincter function can be offered but the evidence for long-term effect is poor. There is good evidence that colonic irrigation can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life, especially in patients with neurogenic faecal incontinence. Surgical interventions should only be considered if conservative measures fail. Sacral nerve stimulation is a minimally invasive procedure with high rate of success. Advanced surgical procedures should be restricted to highly selected patients and only performed at specialist centres. A stoma should be considered if other treatment modalities fail.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology
Pages (from-to)86-97
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

    Research areas

  • conservative treatment, faecal incontinence, quality of life

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