Biofeedback Therapy in the Colon and Rectal Practice

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Abstract

In coloproctology, biofeedback has been used for more than 20 years to treat patients with fecal incontinence, constipation, and rectal pain. It can be performed in a number of conditions with minimal risk and discomfort. However, it does require the presence of some degree of sphincter contraction and rectal sensitivity. Biofeedback can be time-consuming and demands motivation. The purpose of this paper is to review the indications, methodology, and results of anorectal biofeedback in the treatment of these disorders. Mean success rates for biofeedback range from 72.3% for fecal incontinence of diverse etiology, 68.5% for constipation attributable to paradoxical puborectalis syndrome, and 41.2% for idiopathic rectal pain. However, criteria to define success vary tremendously among researchers and there is a tendency to indicate biofeedback in a myriad of conditions when other therapeutic options, including surgery, fail or are inappropriate. These factors make comparison of the results difficult and reinforce the need for randomized controlled trials and studies assessing long-term follow-up. In summary, biofeedback is a simple, cost-effective, and morbidity-free technique and remains an attractive option, especially considering the complexity of the functional disorders of the colon, rectum, anus, and pelvic floor.

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