Anorectal Disorder Treatments

The digestive system begins at the mouth and ends at the rectum and anus, where solid waste is expelled from the body after water and nutrients have been absorbed.

The inside of the anus is lined with glands and four to six crypts, or pockets. Several muscles ring the anal canal and work together to control bowel movements. The inner muscle, just beneath the lining of the anal canal is called the internal involuntary anal sphincter. This muscle is usually contracted to close the anal canal. When a bowel movement occurs, the muscle relaxes to allow the stool to pass.

Anorectal Disorders

Anorectal disorders can be caused by body structure, diet, lifestyle and bacteria present in the waste produced by the body. The most common of these are:

Treatments

Although many people are reluctant or embarrassed to see their doctors about anorectal disorders, doing so is a critical step to maintaining good health. Diseases, such as colon or anal cancer, have symptoms that can be mistaken for those of less serious anorectal disorders, such as hemorrhoids or fissures. Only a physician can make an accurate diagnosis of what is causing the symptoms. Some anorectal disorders, such as abscesses, can be lead to cancer of the colon, anus or rectum.

Fecal Incontinence Surgery

The following surgical options are available to patients of the Anorectal Disorders Program:

  • Artificial bowel sphincter: this procedure requires general anesthesia and several days in the hospital. Only patients with severe incontinence undergo this procedure due to relatively high rates of infection experienced with this procedure. Surgeons place an implantable silicone around the anal canal so that the patient can inflate and deflate the cuff to defecate.
  • Sphincteroplasty (sphincter repair): this procedure is recommended if a patient has a distinct defect or scar in the sphincter muscle, usually caused by vaginal delivery. Using minimally invasive techniques, surgeons remove the scar and overlap the edges of the tissue around the scar. Muscles are then re-sewn and non-scarred muscles rejoined. This procedure requires general anesthesia and several days in the hospital. Full recovery from this surgery takes five weeks to three months.
  • Stoma: if fecal incontinence is severe, some patients choose to have a stoma. In this procedure, surgeons put the end of the colon through the abdominal wall. Stool is then collected in a bag attached to the abdomen outside the body.