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November 1988

Neurologic Cause of Idiopathic Incontinence

Author Affiliations

From the Sir Alan Parks Physiology Unit, St Mark's Hospital, London.

Arch Neurol. 1988;45(11):1250-1253. doi:10.1001/archneur.1988.00520350088021

• The relationship between the pudendal and perineal nerve terminal motor latencies and descent (weakness) of the perineum on straining was investigated in 31 patients with idiopathic fecal incontinence, and in 30 patients with double incontinence. Pelvic floor descent was correlated with increased pudendal nerve terminal motor latency in both groups of patients. In the patients with double incontinence, there was a less significant correlation between perineal descent and increased perineal nerve terminal motor latency. In the patients with fecal incontinence, but without urinary incontinence, there was no correlation between perineal descent and perineal nerve terminal motor latency. These data support the concept that pelvic floor weakness can result in damage to the pudendal and perineal nerves, leading to fecal and urinary incontinence. In patients with isolated fecal incontinence the perineal nerves are relatively spared. Thus these common types of incontinence probably have a neurologic cause, and neurophysiologic methods can be used in their assessment.

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