Anal sphincter structure and function relationships in aging and fecal incontinence

Christina Lewicky-Gaupp*, Quinn Hamilton, James Ashton-Miller, Markus Huebner, John O L DeLancey, Dee E. Fenner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of the study was to determine the effect of aging and continence status on the structure and function of the external (EAS) and internal (IAS) anal sphincters. Study Design: Young (YC) and older (OC) continent women were compared with older women with fecal incontinence (OI). Patients completed the Fecal Incontinence Quality of Life and Fecal Incontinence Severity Index and underwent anorectal manometry and transanal ultrasound. Results: Nine YC, 9 OC, and 8 OI women participated. Aging was associated with a thickening of the IAS. Older incontinent women had a thinner EAS, had decreased maximum squeeze pressures, and were hypersensitive to rectal distention with decreased tolerable rectal volumes and urge to defecate at lower volumes. Conclusion: Thickening of the IAS occurs with aging. Thinning of the EAS and a corresponding drop in squeeze pressure correlated with fecal incontinence but not aging. Rectal hypersensitivity was associated with fecal incontinence rather than aging and may play a role in the mechanism of fecal incontinence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559.e1-559.e5
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009


  • aging
  • external anal sphincter
  • fecal incontinence
  • internal anal sphincter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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