Patient and surgeon ranking of the severity of symptoms associated with fecal incontinence: the fecal incontinence severity index

Dis Colon Rectum. 1999 Dec;42(12):1525-32. doi: 10.1007/BF02236199.


Purpose: The purpose of this research was to develop and evaluate a severity rating score for fecal incontinence, the Fecal Incontinence Severity Index.

Methods: The Fecal Incontinence Severity Index is based on a type x frequency matrix. The matrix includes four types of leakage commonly found in the fecal incontinent population: gas, mucus, and liquid and solid stool and five frequencies: one to three times per month, once per week, twice per week, once per day, and twice per day. The Fecal Incontinence Severity Index was developed using both colon and rectal surgeons and patient input for the specification of the weighting scores.

Results: Surgeons and patients had very similar weightings for each of the type x frequency combinations; significant differences occurred for only 3 of the 20 different weights. The Fecal Incontinence Severity Index score of a group of patients with fecal incontinence (N = 118) demonstrated significant correlations with three of the four scales found in a fecal incontinence quality-of-life scale.

Conclusions: Evaluation of the Fecal Incontinence Severity Index indicates that the index is a tool that can be used to assess severity of fecal incontinence. Overall, patient and surgeon ratings of severity are similar, with minor differences associated with the accidental loss of solid stool.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Colorectal Surgery*
  • Emotions
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Fecal Incontinence / classification*
  • Fecal Incontinence / physiopathology
  • Fecal Incontinence / psychology
  • Feces
  • Flatulence / classification
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Mucus
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index*