How can surgery help treat accidental bowel leakage (ABL)?

Sometimes acute disruption of the muscles of the pelvic floor because of traumatic childbirth or an accident can cause accidental bowel leakage (ABL), and surgical correction of the muscles may improve symptoms.

This surgery is called sphincteroplasty, and while it may help in the short run, the long-term success rates are less promising. If your symptoms start immediately after a birth or traumatic accident, muscle repair may make sense. However, if your symptoms develop months or years after the injury, chances are high that it is not just the muscle injury that is causing the problem, so correcting the muscle injury may not solve the problem -- and may even make things worse.

If your muscles and nerves have been damaged by cancer or radiation, another surgical option is permanent colostomy. In this surgery, doctors bring the bowel up to the skin of the abdomen so that your stool comes into a bag rather than exiting through your bottom. It makes sense to try all your other options before trying this surgery, since it cannot be reversed. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.