Functional Nonretentive Fecal Incontinence: Do Enemas Help?

Department of Pediatrics, Emma Children's Hospital, Amsterdam Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address: .
The Journal of pediatrics (Impact Factor: 3.79). 11/2012; 162(5). DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.10.037
Source: PubMed


To assess the current treatment of functional nonretentive fecal incontinence, which consists of education, toilet training, and positive motivation.

Study design:
Patients, age 6 years and older, referred for fecal incontinence (FI) and diagnosed with functional nonretentive fecal incontinence were eligible candidates. Seventy-one children (76% boys, median age 9.3 years) were randomized to receive conventional therapy (control group) or conventional therapy in addition to daily enemas during 2 weeks. Treatment success was defined as <2 episodes of FI/month without use of enemas.

At intake, the median FI frequency was 6.1 per week, whereas the median defecation frequency was 7.0 per week. At the end of the treatment period, the median number of FI episodes was significantly decreased in both groups: from 7.0 (IQR 4.0-11.5) to 1.0 (IQR 0.5-2.0) in the intervention group and from 6.0 (IQR 4.0-10) to 2.0 (IQR 0.5-3.5) in the control group. No statistical difference was found between the groups at the end of the treatment period (P = .08) nor during additional follow-up (average success rate 17% for both groups, P = .99).

Temporarily application of additional rectal enemas did not significantly improve treatment success compared with conventional therapy alone.

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    ABSTRACT: Background: Fecal incontinence (FI) in children is frequently encountered in pediatric practice, and often occurs in combination with urinary incontinence. In most cases, FI is constipation-associated, but in 20% of children presenting with FI, no constipation or other underlying cause can be found - these children suffer from functional nonretentive fecal incontinence (FNRFI). Objective: To summarize the evidence-based recommendations of the International Children's Continence Society for the evaluation and management of children with FNRFI. Recommendations: Functional nonretentive fecal incontinence is a clinical diagnosis based on medical history and physical examination. Except for determining colonic transit time, additional investigations are seldom indicated in the workup of FNRFI. Treatment should consist of education, a nonaccusatory approach, and a toileting program encompassing a daily bowel diary and a reward system. Special attention should be paid to psychosocial or behavioral problems, since these frequently occur in affected children. Functional nonretentive fecal incontinence is often difficult to treat, requiring prolonged therapies with incremental improvement on treatment and frequent relapses.
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