OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to determine sphincter volume, length, and external anal sphincter thickness in healthy controls and fecal incontinent patients by use of a three-dimensional reconstruction of endoanal ultrasonography images. METHODS: Forty-four controls (15 males, 15 females, and 14 parous females) and 28 incontinent parous females (with and without a sphincter defect) were studied. Internal anal sphincter, external anal sphincter and puborectalis volume, sphincter length, and external anal sphincter thickness were measured. Intraobserver and interobserver variability were assessed. Anal pressure profile was also determined. RESULTS: Internal anal sphincter and external anal sphincter volumes were larger in males than in females (P = 0.001 and P = 0.04), and external anal sphincter volume was smaller in parous females but this was not significant (P = 0.084). Anterior sphincter length was longer in males (P = 0.004) and shorter in parous females (P = 0.06). Males had a larger anterior external anal sphincter thickness (P = 0.018); parity made no difference. Sphincter volumes were not smaller in incontinent females. Incontinent females with a sphincter defect had a shorter anterior sphincter length than that of continent (P = 0.001) and incontinent females without a sphincter defect (P < 0.001). Anterior external anal sphincter thickness was smaller in incontinent females with a sphincter defect (P = 0.006), and posterior and right external anal sphincter thickness was smaller in incontinent females without a sphincter defect (P = 0.02 and P = 0.03). Intraobserver variability was seen for internal anal sphincter volume and sphincter length, but there was no interobserver variability. Correlation between anal pressures and endoanal ultrasonography measurements was poor. CONCLUSIONS: Differences in anal sphincter volumes are seen for gender but not for parity. Fecal incontinence is not associated with loss of sphincter volume. However, anterior sphincter length and external anal sphincter thickness are smaller.

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doi.org/10.1007/s10350-004-0811-9, hdl.handle.net/1765/66448
Diseases of the Colon and Rectum
Department of Surgery

West, R.L, Felt-Bersma, R.J.F, Hansen, B.E, Schouten, W.R, & Kuipers, E.J. (2005). Volume measurements of the anal sphincter complex in healthy controls and fecal-incontinent patients with a three-dimensional reconstruction of endoanal ultrasonography images. Diseases of the Colon and Rectum, 48(3), 540–548. doi:10.1007/s10350-004-0811-9