Benign Colorectal Disease



The incidence of benign medical and surgical diseases of the colon and rectum increases with age. Although constipation, fecal incontinence, and several other associated benign ­conditions increase in frequency with aging, a paucity of information exists regarding the normal aging effect on gastrointestinal pathophysiology. Studies documenting anatomic, physiologic, and pathologic changes that occur in the aging colon have not been definitive, and many studies have reported conflicting results. Mucosal atrophy, atrophy of ­circular muscles, thickening of longitudinal muscles (taeniae coli), increased elastin deposition, and atherosclerosis are several of the changes seen in the aging bowel [1]. These changes may factor into the development of several disease states (i.e., diverticular disease and angiodysplasia). Medications affect gastrointestinal function and many have constipation as a side effect. Preexisting diseases (cardiac, pulmonary, renal, neurologic, psychiatric) may affect colonic motility directly or secondarily. In addition, these comorbidities affect medical and surgical therapy, making geriatric operative risks higher. Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial even for seemingly benign diseases or symptoms. In this chapter, we address benign colorectal diseases frequently encountered in the elderly patient and which may increase as the population ages. Diseases common to both young and old persons, such as hemorrhoids and fissures, are not discussed.


Pelvic Organ Prolapse Fecal Incontinence Anal Sphincter Rectal Prolapse Pudendal Nerve 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SurgeryBarnes Jewish Hospital, Washington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA

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