How does anal electromyography help diagnose fecal incontinence?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
Anorectal electromyography (EMG) helps assess whether your muscles are contracting and relaxing appropriately. For an anal sphincter EMG, the doctor inserts a small electrode-containing sponge into your anal canal (the last inch of the rectum ending at the opening to the outside of the body). The sponge records electrical signals from the sphincter muscles as you squeeze and relax.

Anal electromyography can help diagnose fecal incontinence by helping your doctor confirm the presence of damage to the nerves that control the muscles of the rectum and sphincter. Your doctor will need to insert small electrodes into the muscles of your anal area in order to perform this test. If your fecal incontinence is the result of nerve damage, this test will confirm it.

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