Neurophysiological testing in anorectal disorders

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Abstract

Neurophysiological tests of anorectal function can provide useful information regarding the integrity of neuronal innervation, as well as neuromuscular function. This information can give insights regarding the pathophysiological mechanisms that lead to several disorders of anorectal function, particularly fecal incontinence, pelvic floor disorders and dyssynergic defecation. Currently, several tests are available for the neurophysiological evaluation of anorectal function. These tests are mostly performed on patients referred to tertiary care centers, either following negative evaluations or when there is lack of response to conventional therapy. Judicious use of these tests can reveal significant and new understanding of the underlying mechanism(s) that could pave the way for better management of these disorders. In addition, these techniques are complementary to other modalities of investigation, such as pelvic floor imaging. The most commonly performed neurophysiological tests, along with their indications and clinical utility are discussed. Several novel techniques are evolving that may reveal new information on brain–gut interactions.

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