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How does endoanal ultrasound help diagnose fecal incontinence?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
Endoanal ultrasound, also known as endoanal sonography, uses sound waves, rather than x-rays, to create images of the internal and external anal sphincters (muscles that surround and are capable of closing off the rectum) in diagnosing fecal incontinence. Inserting a slim ultrasound probe into the anus, the physician should be able to see how your sphincter muscles move and determine whether any portions of the muscles are missing or have become too thin. It is important to distinguish fecal incontinence caused by sphincter damage -- which may be surgically repairable -- from that caused by other muscle or nerve damage. Endoanal sonography can help distinguish who will benefit from surgery and who will best respond to nonsurgical approaches.

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