Pathophysiology of Faecal Incontinence

  • Luigi Zorcolo
  • David C. C. Bartolo
  • Anne-Marie Leroi


The ability to control evacuation, as discussed in Chapter 1, is guaranteed by many factors. These include intact anal sphincter mechanism, compliant reservoir, efficient evacuation, stool volume and consistency, intestinal motility, pelvic floor structural integrity, cortical awareness, cognitive function, mobility and access to facilities. Normal defecation is a process of integrated somatovisceral responses, which involve coordinated colo-recto-anal function [1]. Incontinence occurs when one or more of these mechanisms are impaired and the remaining mechanisms are unable to compensate. Although integrity of the sphincteric mechanism plays a major part, there are other important aspects, such as stool volume and consistency, colonic transit, rectal compliance and sensation, anorectal sensation and anorectal reflexes [2]. In this chapter, all these aspects are discussed separately, but in the majority of cases (80% according to Rao et al. [3]), the cause of faecal incontinence (FI) is multifactorial [4, 5].


Irritable Bowel Syndrome Faecal Incontinence Anal Sphincter External Anal Sphincter Internal Anal Sphincter 
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© Springer-Verlag Italia 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luigi Zorcolo
  • David C. C. Bartolo
  • Anne-Marie Leroi

There are no affiliations available

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