This study was designed to evaluate the anatomic and functional consequences of lateral internal sphincterotomy in patients who developed anal incontinence and in matched controls.METHODS:
The study includes 13 patients with anal incontinence after lateral internal sphincterotomy and 13 controls who underwent the same operation and were continent and satisfied with the results of the procedure. Patients underwent clinical evaluation, anorectal manometry, pudendal nerve terminal motor latency testing, and endoanal ultrasonography.RESULTS:
Sphincterotomies were longer in incontinent patients (75 vs. 57 percent), but the resting pressure and length of the high-pressure zone were not different between groups. Surprisingly, maximum voluntary contraction was higher in incontinent patients than in continent controls (136 vs. 100 mmHg). Rectal sensation and pudendal nerve terminal motor latency were similar in both groups. The defect in the internal sphincter was wider in incontinent patients than in continent controls (17.3 vs. 14.4 mm), but these differences were not statistically significant. The thickness of the internal sphincter measured by endoanal ultrasound was identical in both groups, but the external sphincter was thinner in incontinent patients both at the site of the sphincterotomy (6.8 vs. 8.1 mm) and in the posterior midline (7.1 vs. 8.6 mm).CONCLUSIONS:
Anal incontinence after lateral internal sphincterotomy is directly related to the length of the sphincterotomy. Whether secondary to preoperative sphincter abnormality or the result of lateral internal sphincterotomy, the external sphincter is thinner in incontinent patients than in continent controls.