Functional changes after physiotherapy in fecal incontinence.
Physiotherapy is a common treatment option in patients with fecal incontinence. Although physiotherapy may result in relief of symptoms, to what extent improvement is associated with changes in anorectal function is still unclear.
The aim of the present study was to investigate prospectively how anorectal function changes with physiotherapy and whether these changes are related to changes in fecal incontinence score.
Consenting consecutive patients (n=266) with fecal incontinence (91% women; mean age, 59 years) underwent anorectal manometry, anal and rectal mucosal sensitivity measurements, and rectal capacity measurement at baseline and after nine sessions of standardized pelvic floor physiotherapy. These findings were compared with changes in Vaizey incontinence score.
On follow-up 3 months after physiotherapy, squeeze pressure (p=0.028), as well as urge sensation threshold (p=0.046) and maximum tolerable volume (p=0.018), had increased significantly. The extent of improvement was not related to age, duration of fecal incontinence, menopause, and endosonography findings. All other anorectal functions did not change. An improvement in the Vaizey score was moderately correlated with an increase in incremental squeeze pressure (r=0.14, p=0.04) and a decrease in anal mucosal sensitivity threshold (r=0.20, p=0.01).
Physiotherapy improves squeeze pressure, urge sensation, and maximum tolerable volume. However, improved anorectal function does not always result in a decrease in fecal incontinence complaints.