Fecal Incontinence, or Bowel Incontinence, Corrected by Top Doctors at Mercy

Institute for Digestive Health and Liver Disease at Mercy - Baltimore, MD

Fecal incontinence, or bowel incontinence, can be a very embarrassing condition, but it can be managed and, in some cases, even corrected. Our doctors, at The Center for Inflammatory Bowel and Colorectal Diseases at Mercy in Baltimore, provide treatment options for patients who suffer from fecal incontinence. 

About the Condition

Fecal incontinence, also known as bowel incontinence or stool incontinence, is the inability to control the passage of gas or stool (feces) through the anus. Fecal incontinence can occur at any age but is most common among people over the age of 65 or in women following childbirth.

NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

The inability to control bowel movements due to constipation, diarrhea, or muscle and nerve damage in the lower part of the colon can cause fecal incontinence. When the muscles and nerves that control the rectum become weak, they cannot hold the stool in the bowel.

Following a medical history and a physical exam of the rectum, fecal incontinence can be diagnosed using:

  • Anorectal ultrasonography – use of sound waves to capture pictures of the inside of the anus and rectum
  • Proctography – allows for an X-ray of the rectum to be taken to determine how much stool can be held and how the stool leaves the rectum
  • Proctosigmoidoscopy – use of a camera to examine the lower portion of the colon
  • Anal manometry – use of an expanded balloon that is inserted into the rectum to measure the rectum’s function and sensitivity 
NEXT: Treatment Options ›
Treatment Options

Fecal incontinence can be controlled and, in many cases, corrected with various treatment options:

  • Dietary changes – includes making changes to the diet to help regulate bowel movements
  • Medication – can include anti-diarrheal medications, laxatives, and stool softeners as well as medications that help to decrease the motion of the bowel or to decrease the amount of water in the stool
  • Bowel training – can include biofeedback therapy
  • Surgery – performed to correct rectal prolapse or damage caused by childbirth