Surgery for faecal incontinence in adults

P Bachoo, M Brazzelli, A Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Faecal incontinence is a debilitating problem with significant medical, social and economic implications. Treatment options include conservative, non-operative interventions (e.g. pelvic floor muscle training, biofeedback, drugs) and surgical procedures. Surgery is used in selected groupsof people when the structural and functional defects in the pelvic floor muscles or the anal sphincter complex can be corrected mechanically.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of established surgical techniques for the treatment of faecal incontinence in adults who do not have rectal prolapse. Our aims were firstly to compare surgical management with non-surgical management and secondly, to compare the various surgical techniques.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Incontinence Group trials register, the Cochrane Colorectal Cancer Group trials register, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (Issue 2, 1999), Medline (up to March 1999), Embase (1998 up to January 1999), Sigle (1980 up to December 1996), Biosis (1998 up to March 1999), SCI (1998 up to March 1999), ISTP (1982 up to March 1999) and the reference lists of relevant articles. We specifically hand searched the British Journal of Surgery from 1995 to 1998 and the Diseases of the Colon and Rectum from 1995 to 1998. We also perused the proceedings of the Association of Coloproctology, meeting 1999. Date of the most recent literature searches: March 1999.

SELECTION CRITERIA: All randomised or quasi-randomised trials of surgery in the management of adult faecal incontinence (other then surgery for rectal prolapse).

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers independently selected studies from the literature, extracted data and assessed the methodological quality of eligible trials. The three primary outcome measures were: change or deterioration in incontinence, failure to achieve full continence, and the presence of faecal urgency.

MAIN RESULTS: Four trials were included with a total sample size of 110 participants. All trials excluded women with anal sphincter defects detected by endoanal ultrasound examination. No trial included a group managed non-surgically. Two trials (56 participants) compared three approaches to pelvic floor repair (anterior levatorplasty, postanal repair and their combination total pelvic floor repair). One trial (30 participants) evaluated adding plication of the anal sphincter to total pelvic floor repair. The fourth trial (24 participants) compared a neosphincter procedure with total pelvic floor repair. No differences in the primary outcomes were detected, but data were few and inconsistently reported.

REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: The small number of relevant trials identified together with their small sample sizes and other methodological weaknesses severely limit the usefulness of this review for guiding practice. It was impossible to identify or refute clinically important differences between the alternative surgical procedures. Larger rigorous trials are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)CD001757
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Adult
  • Fecal Incontinence
  • Humans
  • Pelvic Floor
  • Journal Article
  • Review


Dive into the research topics of 'Surgery for faecal incontinence in adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this