Faecal Incontinence Treatment: New Hope in the horizon

Out of all the types of incontinence one may suffer from, faecal incontinence is the most nefarious, especially because of the marked impairment faecal incontinence causes to the patient’s quality of life.  Faecal incontinence treatment tends to be one of the most challenging. Even with the existing standard treatments, many patients continue to suffer.

Treating faecal incontinence essentially depends on the degree of leakage and lifestyle effects on the patients. Most patients with chronic faecal incontinence do not leak large volumes of stools and usually only leak when stool is liquid and the bowels are irritated. Yet still,  because of odour problems and discomfort, any amount of stool leakage is usually not acceptable. And so the search for ever more effective faecal incontinence treatment modalities continues.

What are the methods of faecal incontinence treatment available?
Faecal incontinence arises because the sphincter which should keep the anal opening closed becomes faulty, resulting in leakage of varied amounts of faeces dependent on the degree of the sphincter’s incompetence.

Faecal incontinence treatment is primarily aimed at progressively strengthening the anal sphincter. It is worth noting that the anal sphincter is a part of the pelvic floor muscles. But  unlike other muscles of the pelvic floor, the anal sphincter, cannot be fully stimulated through the physical exercises designed to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. Therefore, doctors resort to artificially stimulating the muscles through an electrical current applied through electrodes.

In advanced degrees faecal incontinence, surgical options are usually the best bet. Surgical intervention is also recommended in cases of acute faecal incontinence such as after traumatic child birth, or injury to anal muscles during another surgical procedure.

Otherwise, there is a variety of non-surgical treatment modalities to choose from.  Available treatment methods include:

  • Targeted Training through exercises.
  • Medications: a drug called Loperamide Hydrochloride.
  • Biofeedback.
  • Electrical Stimulation.

What is new in the treatment of Faecal incontinence?
So far, the standard treatment involved low-frequency electro stimulation (also known as LFS). This study has now provided evidence that it is more effective to combine LFS, biofeedback and medium-wave electro stimulation in a new combination labelled triple-target treatment (3T)

A recent study published in the October 2011 issue of the German journal Deutsches Arzteblatt International has proven that the combination of biofeedback and electrical stimulation using medium-frequency waves yields  better results than the standard therapy of using low-frequency electrical waves alone to stimulate the anal sphincter muscles.

Two groups of patients were followed for a period of sixth months. The first group underwent standard treatment of using LFS only, and the other was treated using a combination of LFS, biofeedback and medium-frequency electro stimulation.  The second group

I am an anal incontinence patient; would I benefit from this faecal incontinence treatment?.
Take this information to your doctor and discuss it with them. If you are candidate for non-surgical interventions than you could be a good candidate for triple-target treatment. Only your physician will be able to determine that after conducting a thorough examination and perhaps ordering some investigations.

Reference

Triple-Target Treatment Versus Low-Frequency Electrostimulation for Anal Incontinence; Deutsches Ärzteblatt International; Dtsch Arztebl Int 2011; 108(39): 653–60; Thilo Schwandner et al.

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