Mode of delivery and risk of fecal incontinence in women with or without inflammatory bowel disease: Questionnaire survey

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Background:Elective cesarean section (CS) may be recommended for patients with Crohn's disease and perineal involvement. Little is known about CS rates in parous women with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), nor the possible long-term impact of vaginal delivery and episiotomy on continence in women with IBD.Methods:Questionnaires were sent to all 777 regional members of a Colitis and Crohn's Disease patient association. Male members were asked to request their unaffected female spouse/partner to complete the forms in order to give a “control” group for comparison.Results:Forms were returned by 491 members (response rate 63%). CS had been undertaken for 37 of the 229 parous women with IBD (16%) versus 15 of the 116 without IBD (13%) (χ2 = 0.62, P = NS). Only 2 women had undergone CS due to IBD. Of the parous women with IBD, 75 (33%) had persisting problems with fecal incontinence, of whom 21 (28%) dated this back to the time of vaginal delivery. By contrast, only 2 (2%) of the parous control group had suffered persisting fecal incontinence following vaginal delivery (χ2 = 8.27, P < 0.01).Conclusions:Persisting fecal incontinence is reported by a significant minority of parous women with IBD, of whom over one-quarter date this back to vaginal delivery. CS is rarely recommended due to IBD alone. If our findings are confirmed in prospective studies, the threshold for recommending CS may need to be lowered for patients with IBD.

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