Table of Contents
ISRN Neurology
Volume 2012, Article ID 376023, 9 pages
Review Article

Anorectal Dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis: A Systematic Review

1Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15217, USA
2Rutgers College of Nursing, The State University of New Jersey, 180 University Avenue, Newark, NJ 07102, USA

Received 9 May 2012; Accepted 28 May 2012

Academic Editors: E. M. Wassermann and M. Yoshiyama

Copyright © 2012 Sanober Nusrat et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Constipation and fecal incontinence are common in patients with neuromuscular diseases. Despite their high prevalence and potential impact on overall quality of life, few studies have addressed anorectal dysfunction in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). The goal of this paper is to define the prevalence, pathophysiology, impact, and potential treatment of constipation and incontinence in MS patients. Methods. The PubMed database was searched for English language publications between January 1973 and December 2011. Articles were reviewed to assess the definition of the study population, duration, type and severity of MS, sex distribution, prevalence, impact, results of physiologic testing, and treatments. Results. The reported prevalence of constipation and fecal incontinence ranged around 40%. Anorectal dysfunction significantly affected patients with nearly 1 in 6 patients limiting social activities or even quitting work due to symptoms. Caregivers listed toileting as a common and significant burden. The only randomized controlled trial showed a marginal improvement of constipation with abdominal massage. All other reports lacked control interventions and only demonstrated improvement in individuals with milder symptoms. Conclusion. Anorectal dysfunction is a common manifestation in MS that significantly affects quality of life. Therapies are at best moderately effective and often cumbersome, highlighting the need for simple and more helpful interventions.