Fecal incontinence and Anorectal Manometry

Overview

Anorectal manometry is a diagnostic procedure that studies fecal incontinence in patients with constipation or stool leakage. This test measures the strength and function of the anal sphincter muscles and neural reflexes needed for bowel movements. Fecal incontinence is relatively common in patients over the age of 65, and causes uncontrollable bowel movements. Impairment of the anal sphincter and puborectalis muscle, decreased rectal sensation, fecal impaction, and other underlying health conditions could increase the risk of fecal incontinence in elderly patients. 

What To Expect During Anorectal Manometry 

Anorectal manometry is typically administered for patients with constipation, fecal incontinence, or injury to the anal sphincter muscles. Your West Valley Colon and Rectal Surgery Center physician may use anorectal manometry to measure the expulsion pressures and constricting abilities of the anal sphincters and rectum.  

Because the sphincters are a set of two muscles that help regulate the passage of bowel movements, a physician must insert a small, flexible device (the anorectal manometry device) into the rectum. This part of the process is usually painless. Once the instrument is in place, the physician will ask the patient to squeeze and relax the anal sphincter muscles. If the anal sphincter muscles tighten or relax at the wrong time, incontinence or constipation is likely present.

There are very few risks associated with this procedure, and an anorectal manometry generally lasts anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes long. After the examination, patients are able to return home and resume their daily activities.