Should patients with combined colonic inertia and nonrelaxing pelvic floor undergo subtotal colectomy?

Andrea Bernini, Robert D. Madoff, Ann C. Lowry, Michael P. Spencer, Brett T. Gemlo, Linda L. Jensen, W. Douglas Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: Treatment of severe constipation caused by combined colonic inertia and nonrelaxing pelvic floor is controversial. This study is designed to evaluate the outcome of preoperative biofeedback and subtotal colectomy for patients with combined colonic inertia and nonrelaxing pelvic floor. METHODS: One hundred six patients who underwent subtotal colectomy for intractable constipation from 1982 through 1995 answered a detailed questionnaire regarding postoperative bowel function, symptoms of abdominal pain and bloating, and degree of satisfaction after the operation. Sixteen of these patients had a combination of colonic inertia and nonrelaxing pelvic floor diagnosed by transit marker study, electromyography, and defecography. These patients completed preoperative biofeedback training. RESULTS: Electromyographic relaxation of pelvic floor musculature was demonstrated after the biofeedback treatment in all patients, but symptoms of difficult evacuation persisted. Postoperatively, seven patients (43 percent) had complete resolution of symptoms of constipation or difficult evacuation. Six patients still complained of incomplete evacuation that was severe in two and unresponsive to postoperative biofeedback. Three patients (18 percent) complained of diarrhea (>5 bowel movements per day) and incontinence of liquid stools (at least one episode a week). Nine patients (56 percent) were satisfied despite persistent symptoms CONCLUSIONS: Subtotal colectomy can improve some symptoms in patients with slow transit constipation and nonrelaxing pelvic floor. However, incomplete evacuation persists in a significant number of patients and almost one-half of patients are dissatisfied with their surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1363-1366
Number of pages4
JournalDiseases of the colon and rectum
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1998


  • Biofeedback
  • Colectomy
  • Colonic inertia
  • Constipation
  • Pelvic floor disorders

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