Pelvic floor architectural defects in female patients with urge fecal incontinence versus passive fecal leakage: a dynamic ultrasound study

Int Urogynecol J. 2021 Jul 22. doi: 10.1007/s00192-021-04919-3. Online ahead of print.

Joseph B Pincus 1 2, Nani P Moss 3, Cecilia Chang 4, Roger P Goldberg 3, Ghazaleh Rostaminia 3


Author information

  • 1Division of Urogynecology, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Skokie, IL, USA. pincusjb@gmail.com.
  • 2Division of Urogynecology, NorthShore University HealthSystem, 9650 Gross Point Road, Suite 3900, Skokie, IL, 60076, USA. pincusjb@gmail.com.
  • 3Division of Urogynecology, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Skokie, IL, USA.
  • 4NorthShore University HealthSystem Research Institute, Evanston, IL, USA.


Introduction and hypothesis: Fecal incontinence (FI) has two primary subtypes: urgency fecal incontinence (UFI) and passive fecal leakage (PFL). The pathophysiology underlying the subtypes is incompletely understood.

Objectives: To compare the bowel habits, physical examinations and pelvic floor anatomical defects in patients with UFI-dominant FI versus patients with PFL-dominant FI.

Study design: This is a retrospective cross-sectional study of female patients who presented with fecal incontinence symptoms to our tertiary urogynecology center. All subjects underwent a comprehensive history, physical examination, 3D-static pelvic floor ultrasound, and 2D-dynamic ultrasound of the posterior compartment. Patients with UFI-dominant FI were compared to patients with PFL-dominant FI.

Results: One hundred forty-five patients were included in the analysis; 57 categorized as UFI-dominant FI, 69 PFL-dominant FI and 19 categorized as having "both" leakage patterns. In comparing bowel habits, patient with UFI-dominant FI had more frequent bowel movements (15.5 ± SD 13.0/week vs. 10.9 ± SD 7.6 /week, p = 0.022) and were more likely to have loose stools (48.2% vs. 26.1%, p = 0.01). No statistically significant differences were observed in the prevalence of external anal sphincter defect (11.3% vs. 17.2%, p = 0.38) or internal anal sphincter defect (11.3% vs. 19%, p = 0.26) between groups. Finally, patients with UFI-dominant FI had a higher incidence of rectal hypermobility (loss of rectal support on Valsalva) (58% vs. 36.9%, p = 0.025).

Conclusion: Patients with urge-predominant FI have increased frequency of bowel movements, looser stools, and increased rectal folding diagnosed via dynamic ultrasound as compared to patients with passive-dominant FI.



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