Current and emerging treatment options for fecal incontinence

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32 Scopus citations


Fecal incontinence (FI) is a multifactorial disorder that imposes considerable social and economic burdens. The aim of this article is to provide an overview of current and emerging treatment options for FI. A MEDLINE search was conducted for Englishlanguage articles related to FI prevalence, etiology, diagnosis, and treatment published from January 1, 1990 through June 1, 2013. The search was extended to unpublished trials on Clinical- and relevant publications cited in included articles. Conservative approaches, including dietary modifications, medications, muscle-strengthening exercises, and biofeedback, have been shown to provide short-term benefits. Transcutaneous electrical stimulation was considered ineffective in a randomized clinical trial. Unlike initial studies, sacral nerve stimulation has shown reasonable short-term effectiveness and some complications. Dynamic graciloplasty and artificial sphincter and bowel devices lack randomized controlled trials and have shown inconsistent results and high rates of explantation. Of injectable bulking agents, dextranomer microspheres in non-animal stabilized hyaluronic acid (NASHA Dx) has shown significant improvement in incontinence scores and frequency of incontinence episodes, with generally mild adverse effects. For the treatment of FI, conservative measures and biofeedback therapy are modestly effective. When conservative therapies are ineffective, invasive procedures, including sacral nerve stimulation, may be considered, but they are associated with complications and lack randomized, controlled trials. Bulking agents may be an appropriate alternative therapy to consider before more aggressive therapies in patients who fail conservative therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)752-764
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Gastroenterology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • Anal incontinence
  • Diarrhea
  • Motility
  • NASHA Dx
  • SNS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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