Fecal Incontinence Specialist

Karen Zaghiyan, MD, FACS, FASCRS

Colorectal Surgeon located in Los Angeles, CA

Fecal incontinence is a common problem in adults. However, many individuals are too embarrassed to talk about it or seek medical advice. At her practice in Los Angeles, California, Karen Zaghiyan, MD, FACS, FASCRS, offers discreet and compassionate treatment for men and women with colorectal issues like fecal incontinence. There are solutions for fecal incontinence. To learn more, call Karen Zaghiyan MD or schedule an appointment online today.

Fecal Incontinence

What is fecal incontinence?

Fecal incontinence is the inability to control passing gas or stools. This condition can vary from mild, where you can’t stop passing gas, to a severe loss of control over liquid or formed stools.

What causes fecal incontinence?

You can experience fecal incontinence due to a variety of reasons, including:

Anal sphincter damage

Your anal sphincter muscles surround your anus and control when to release stools from your rectum. When these muscles weaken or become injured, they can impair your ability to control your bowels. 

Anal sphincter damage can develop due to a variety of reasons, including childbirth, anal surgery, traumatic injury to the anal region, or because of the aging process. Often, the injury occurs many years before the onset of symptoms. 

Nerve problems

Your anal sphincter muscles have nerves controlling their function. Common causes of nerve problems associated with your sphincter include childbirth, anal surgery, or traumatic injury. 

Other causes of nerve problems leading to fecal incontinence include neurological disorders, spinal cord injuries, or nerve complications caused by conditions like diabetes.

Overflow incontinence

Overflow incontinence develops when you have a large volume of stool that overwhelms your rectum and anal sphincters. This form of fecal incontinence is often due to diarrhea. 

You might have diarrhea because of changes to your dietary habits or prescription medications, colon inflammation, infections, tumors, or recent surgery.

How is fecal incontinence diagnosed?

Dr. Zaghiyan diagnoses fecal incontinence by thoroughly reviewing your medical history and performing a physical exam. Common fecal incontinence screenings include: 

  • Evaluating your sphincter tone and looking for signs of muscle damage
  • Anal ultrasound to capture a digital image of your anal sphincter and check for injury 
  • Anal manometry to record anal pressure and evaluate anal function

Based on this information, Dr. Zaghiyan can determine the best treatment methods for your fecal incontinence.

How is fecal incontinence treated?

Dr. Zaghiyan often starts treating fecal incontinence with conservative approaches involving diet, medications, and muscle-strengthening exercises.

For chronic or severe fecal incontinence, however, Dr. Zaghiyan might recommend minimally invasive therapies, such as:

  • Solesta®: an injectable gel that adds bulk to your anal canal
  • Sacral nerve stimulation or InterStim®: an implantable device that addresses nerve problems
  • Sphincter repair: a surgical technique that fixes sphincter muscle damage

To find treatment for your fecal incontinence, call Karen Zaghiyan MD or schedule an appointment online today.