Constipation and fecal incontinence in the elderly population.


Romero Y, Evans JM, Fleming KC, Phillips SF, et al.




Mayo Clin Proc


OBJECTIVE: To describe the assessment and management of constipation and fecal incontinence in elderly patients. DESIGN: We reviewed pertinent publications in the recent medical literature and outlined effective management strategies for constipation and fecal incontinence in the geriatric population. RESULTS: Constipation can be classified into two syndromes--functional constipation and rectosigmoid outlet delay. Evaluation consists of elicitation of a detailed history, directed physical examination, and selected laboratory tests. Management involves nonpharmacologic (such as exercise and fiber) and pharmacologic measures. Fecal incontinence in elderly patients can be due to stool impaction, medications, dementia, or neuromuscular dysfunction. Management options include modification of contributing disorders, pharmacologic therapy, and behavioral techniques. CONCLUSION: Constipation and fecal incontinence are common and often debilitating conditions in elderly patients. Management should be highly individualized and dependent on cause, coexisting morbidities, and cognitive status.