Pathophysiology and Therapeutic Options for Fecal Incontinence

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Abstract

Fecal incontinence (FI), defined as the involuntary loss of solid or liquid feces through the anus is a prevalent condition with significant effects on quality of life. FI can affect individuals of all ages and in many cases greatly impairs quality of life but, incontinent patients should not accept their debility as either inevitable or untreatable. The severity of incontinence can range from unintentional elimination of flatus to the complete evacuation of bowel contents. It is reported to affect up to 18% of the population, with a prevalence reaching as high as 50% in nursing home residents. However, FI is often underreported, thus obscuring its true prevalence in the general population. The options for treatment vary according to the degree and severity of the FI. Treatment can include dietary and lifestyle modification, certain medications, biofeedback therapy, bulking agent injections, sacral nerve stimulation as well as various types of surgery. In this article, we aim to provide a comprehensive review on the diagnosis and management of FI.

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