Faecal Incontinence

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines continence as: the ability to voluntarily control defecation or stool expulsion, maintain this control even during sleep, distinguish between stool and gas and to defer defecation to a socially acceptable time. In simple terms, faecal incontinence is the inability to achieve continence. Various physiological processes will affect the consistency of stool, compliance or distension of the rectum, quantity of stool, local reflex mechanisms, normal anal canal sensation and normal functioning of the anal muscle sphincter mechanism. Faecal incontinence, often known as incontinence of the bowel, is not a condition but a symptom of an underlying condition and here, leading Consultant Colorectal Surgeons from the Royal Marsden Hospital and University College London team up to explain the latest treatment strategies.