If you have fecal incontinence, it means you can’t hold on to your stools. You might leak small amounts of stool or pass entire bowel movements without being able to stop yourself.
Fecal incontinence can be caused by:
The anal sphincter muscles surround your anus and tighten to hold stools until you’re ready to pass them. If the anal sphincter is weak or injured, you can lose the ability to retain your stools. Anal sphincter damage can result from giving birth, anal surgery, traumatic injury, or aging.
The nerves that control your anal sphincter muscles can suffer damage. Potential causes include neurological (brain and nervous system) disorders, spinal cord injuries, and complications of conditions like diabetes.
IBD (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis) can cause many painful and distressing symptoms. People with ulcerative colitis are particularly likely to suffer from fecal incontinence. The cause is a flaw in your immune system that causes inflammation and other problems in your gut.
Fecal incontinence is sometimes due to an overflow. This can happen when you have large volumes of diarrhea that overwhelm your anal sphincter. You can also experience uncontrollable leakage if you have fecal impaction. This large mass of solid stool builds up when you have severe constipation, and liquid stool leaks past the mass.
To successfully treat fecal incontinence, its cause needs to be found. Your provider at Arizona Preferred Surgeons evaluates your sphincter tone to check for signs of muscle damage. They might do an anal ultrasound to view the sphincter. Another test is anal manometry, which records the pressure in your anus and assesses your anal function.
Depending on what the results show, possible ways to treat fecal incontinence include:
It’s also vital to treat any underlying condition like IBD or diabetes that’s responsible for your fecal incontinence.
If these treatments are ineffective or unsuitable, the Arizona Preferred Surgeons team might need to perform surgery for your fecal incontinence.
The surgery you need for fecal incontinence depends on its cause. Injecting bulking materials like Solesta™ into your anal canal can help. Another possibility is sphincter repair (sphincteroplasty) to surgically fix the muscle damage.
If nothing else is effective, creating a colostomy could provide a solution. This surgery involves making an opening (stoma) in the abdominal wall so that your bowel empties into an external bag.
Call Arizona Preferred Surgeons today or book an appointment online to find the best treatment for your fecal incontinence.