BACKGROUND: Neuropathy may cause fecal incontinence and mixed fecal incontinence/constipation, but its prevalence is unclear, partly due to the lack of comprehensive testing of spino-anorectal innervation. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to develop and determine the clinical usefulness of a novel test, translumbosacral anorectal magnetic stimulation for fecal incontinence. DESIGN: This observational cohort study was conducted from 2012 to 2018. SETTINGS: This study was performed at a tertiary referral center. PATIENTS: Patients with fecal incontinence, patients with mixed fecal incontinence/constipation, and healthy controls were included. INTERVENTIONS: A translumbosacral anorectal magnetic stimulation test was performed by using an anorectal probe with 4 ring electrodes and magnetic coil, and by stimulating bilateral lumbar and sacral plexuses, uses and recording 8 motor-evoked potentials at anal and rectal sites. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The prevalence of lumbar and/or sacral neuropathy was examined. Secondary outcomes were correlation of neuropathy with anorectal sensorimotor function(s) and morphological changes. RESULTS: We evaluated 220 patients: 144 with fecal incontinence, 76 with mixed fecal incontinence/constipation, and 31 healthy controls. All 8 lumbar and sacral motor-evoked potential latencies were significantly prolonged (p < 0.01) in fecal incontinence and mixed fecal incontinence/constipation groups compared with controls. Neuropathy was patchy and involved 4.0 (3.0) (median (interquartile range)) sites. Lumbar neuropathy was seen in 29% to 65% of the patients in the fecal incontinence group and 22% to 61% of the patients in the mixed fecal incontinence/constipation group, and sacral neuropathy was seen in 24% to 64% and 29% to 61% of these patients. Anal neuropathy was significantly more (p < 0.001) prevalent than rectal neuropathy in both groups. There was no correlation between motor-evoked potential latencies and anal sphincter pressures, rectal sensation, or anal sphincter defects. LIMITATIONS: No comparative analysis with electromyography was performed. CONCLUSION: Lumbar or sacral plexus neuropathy was detected in 40% to 75% of patients with fecal incontinence with a 2-fold greater prevalence at the anal region than the rectum. Lumbosacral neuropathy appears to be an independent mechanism in the pathogenesis of fecal incontinence, unassociated with other sensorimotor dysfunctions. Translumbosacral anorectal magnetic stimulation has a high yield and is a safe and clinically useful neurophysiological test.
- Anorectal disorders
- Fecal incontinence
- Translumbosacral anorectal magnetic stimulation
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