Symptom Improvement in Women After Fecal Incontinence Treatments: A Multicenter Cohort Study of the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network

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The study aims were to characterize women with fecal incontinence (FI) and measure changes in FI severity and quality of life 3 and 12 months after treatment.


This study is a secondary analysis of a multicenter study measuring adaptive behaviors among women with FI. Women included had a primary complaint of at least monthly FI over 3 consecutive months and planned FI treatment. Demographic and medical history data were obtained at baseline. Data were collected at baseline, 3 months, and 12 months after clinically selected, nonstandardized treatment. Validated questionnaires were as follows: Fecal Incontinence Severity Index, Modified Manchester Health Questionnaire, Pelvic Floor Disorders Inventory’s Colorectal and Anal Distress Inventory, Pelvic Floor Impact Questionnaire’s Colorectal and Anal Impact Questionnaire, and Medical Outcomes Study Short Form. Questionnaire score changes from baseline were compared using paired t tests at 3 and 12 months after treatment.


Of the 133 women enrolled, 90 women had treatment data at 3 months and 77 at 12 months. Nonsurgical therapies were the most common (78%) with anal sphincter repair in 22%. Fecal Incontinence Severity Index scores and Modified Manchester Health Questionnaire scores significantly improved 3 months after nonsurgical and surgical treatments (−8.8 ± 12.0 and −12.6 ± 19.2, respectively, P < 0.001), as did Colorectal-Anal Distress Inventory and Colorectal-Anal Impact Questionnaire scores (−52.7 ± 70.0 and −60.6 ± 70.0, respectively, P < 0.001) and Medical Outcomes Study Short Form mental health scores (4.2 ± 9.4, P = 0.001). Improvement persisted 12 months posttreatment.


In women seeking care for FI, symptom severity and condition-specific quality of life significantly improve within the first 3 months after FI treatment and are maintained up to 12 months.

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