Clin Colon Rectal Surg 2011; 24(1): 064-070
DOI: 10.1055/s-0031-1272825
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Fecal Incontinence: Etiology, Evaluation, and Treatment

Dana M. Hayden1 , Eric G. Weiss1
  • 1Department of Colon and Rectal Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Florida, Weston, Florida
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
23 February 2011 (online)


Fecal incontinence is a debilitating problem facing ∼2.2% of the U.S. general population over 65 years of age. Etiologic factors include traumatic, neurologic, congenital, and iatrogenic. Most commonly, obstetric trauma causes fecal incontinence as well as poorly performed anorectal surgery or pelvic radiation. Several severity scores and quality of life indexes have been developed to quantify incontinent symptoms. There are several nonsurgical and surgical options for the treatment of fecal incontinence. Biofeedback is among the most successful nonoperative strategies. Depending on the cause, anal sphincter repair, artificial bowel sphincter, and sacral nerve stimulation are used to treat fecal incontinence with some success. Unfortunately, fecal incontinence is an extremely difficult problem to manage: there has not been one, single treatment option that has proven to be both safe and effective in long-term studies.


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Dana M HaydenM.D. 

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Weston, FL 33331