Faecal incontinence is associated with an impaired rectosigmoid brake and improved by sacral neuromodulation

Anthony Y. Lin, Chris Varghese, Niranchan Paskaranandavadivel, Sean Seo, Peng Du, Phil Dinning, Ian P. Bissett, Greg O'Grady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: The rectosigmoid brake, characterised by retrograde cyclic motor patterns on high-resolution colonic manometry, has been postulated as a contributor to the maintenance of bowel continence. Sacral neuromodulation (SNM) is an effective therapy for faecal incontinence, but its mechanism of action is unclear. This study aims to investigate the colonic motility patterns in the distal colon of patients with faecal incontinence, and how these are modulated by SNM. Methods: A high-resolution fibreoptic colonic manometry catheter, containing 36 sensors spaced at 1-cm intervals, was positioned in patients with faecal incontinence undergoing stage 1 SNM. One hour of pre- and post meal recordings were obtained followed by pre- and post meal recordings with suprasensory SNM. A 700-kcal meal was given. Data were analysed to identify propagating contractions. Results: Fifteen patients with faecal incontinence were analysed. Patients had an abnormal meal response (fewer retrograde propagating contractions compared to controls; p = 0.027) and failed to show a post meal increase in propagating contractions (mean 17 ± 6/h premeal vs. 22 ± 9/h post meal, p = 0.438). Compared to baseline, SNM significantly increased the number of retrograde propagating contractions in the distal colon (8 ± 3/h premeal vs. 14 ± 3/h premeal with SNM, p = 0.028). Consuming a meal did not further increase the number of propagating contractions beyond the baseline upregulating effect of SNM. Conclusion: The rectosigmoid brake was suppressed in this cohort of patients with faecal incontinence. SNM may exert a therapeutic effect by modulating this rectosigmoid brake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1556-1566
Number of pages11
JournalColorectal Disease
Issue number12
Early online date6 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • faecal incontinence
  • implant
  • rectosigmoid brake
  • sacral nerve stimulation
  • sacral neuromodulation


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