Fecal incontinence describes the inability to control bowel movements which can lead to a range of accidental leakage of watery stool to unexpected bowel movements of solid stool. It can be caused by muscle or nerve damage, as well as, diarrhea or overflow of liquid stool from stool that is impacted. Muscle and nerve damage may occur during childbirth, after a long history of straining during bowel movements, or as a result of a stroke or spinal cord injury. Functional fecal incontinence can be diagnosed in an adult who has uncontrolled passage of stool with change in bowel habit to diarrhea or constipation, little if any muscle or nerve damage, and/or a psychological cause. Fecal incontinence can be evaluated by digital rectal exam and with the use of studies. Anorectal manometry study measures the strength of the anal sphincter muscles and checks the elasticity of your rectum and your ability to feel when your rectum is full. Anal ultrasound can test the thickness of muscles surrounding the anal canal and help identify any damage to the muscle. This condition can be treated by anorectal biofeedback or in severe cases by surgical methods.
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