Fecal Incontinence

Fecal Incontinence, an inability to control bowel movements, can occur for many reasons. It may be caused by an abscess or inflammation in the rectum, anus or perianal area. Other causes include damage to the anal sphincter from trauma, complications during childbirth, or the result of a previous operation. It can stem from an injury or disorder of the nervous system. Fecal impaction or muscle atrophy in an elderly patient can also lead to incontinence.

The Pelvic Floor Program conducts all testing on site, including specialized radiologic evaluation, anorectal manometry, and endoanal ultrasound to properly diagnose the causes of fecal incontinence. We offer non-surgical therapies as first-line approaches including biofeedback, sphincter (Kegel) exercises, and dietary and liquid management.

Surgery may help people whose fecal incontinence is caused by damage to the pelvic floor or anal sphincter. At NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, our surgeons use the latest technologic advances to treat accidental loss or leakage of stool. In addition to the full spectrum of surgical techniques, we also offer nonsurgical /minimally invasive approaches such as injectible bulking agents (into the anus) and sacral neurostimulation. Sacral neurostimulation (SNS), one of the latest technological advances in bowel incontinence, is a reversible treatment for patients with bowel control problems in whom conservative treatments have not worked or have not been tolerated. Sacral neurostimulation works by stimulating the nerves in the lower pelvis.