Anorectal physiology

Anorectal physiology is a series of tests that are performed to assess the function of the rectum and anus. Patients who require these tests generally present with symptoms of faecal incontinence, constipation, anal fistula or anorectal tumours. These tests include

  • Manometry – to test the pressures generated by the anal sphincters. This informs your specialist about how well the sphincters are working. Patients may be required to cough or strain as the pressures in the anus is being measured to determine if the anal sphincters are able to respond appropriately
  • Endoanal ultrasound – this test is an ultrasound of the anal sphincters and allows your specialist to visualise the sphincter muscles to determine if they are intact. It also allows your specialist to visualise the fistula tract or tumour if applicable
  • Pudendal nerve terminal motor latency (PNTML) – this is a test of the nerves that supply the rectum and the anus to determine if your problems are related to a nerve problem
  • Other tests may also be required depending on the individual patient. These tests are performed on an outpatient basis and are well tolerated. No special preparation is required such as fasting or anaesthetic. The results of these tests are interpreted by your specialist at the time of the testing and will be made available to you as the test proceeds.

    Complete testing usually takes about 15 minutes.

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