Epidemiologic Trends and Diagnostic Evaluation of Fecal Incontinence

Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2020 Jun;16(6):302-309.

Amol Sharma 1, Satish S C Rao 1


Author information

  • 1Dr Sharma is an associate professor of medicine and Dr Rao is a professor of medicine and the J. Harold Harrison, MD, Distinguished University Chair in Gastroenterology in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia.


Fecal incontinence (FI) is a prevalent condition that occurs in up to 15% of the Western population and significantly impairs quality of life. The current understanding of the epidemiology of FI is shifting because of an increasing recognition of FI in men, better appreciation for the impact of changing obstetric practices on FI in women, and comprehension of the effect of modifiable risk factors on the development of FI over time. The pathophysiology of FI is complex and multifactorial, which necessitates the use of multiple diagnostic tests, including tests of anorectal sensorimotor function, peripheral nerve function, and anatomic structure. Translumbosacral anorectal magnetic stimulation is an emerging noninvasive diagnostic test for assessing lumbosacral neuropathy. This article is not intended as a comprehensive recitation of the literature, but rather focuses on recent developments in the understanding of the epidemiology of FI, as well as on the diagnostic evaluation of this condition. This article aims to increase awareness of FI and to outline an initial diagnostic approach to affected patients.


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