38 totally or partially incontinent patients following imperforate anus repair (age 6-15 years) tested a new polyurethane (PU) anal plug against another, widely used anal plug (PVA) in a randomized crossover trial. Plugs were tested 3 weeks each, data concerning bowel habits, handling and plug-related problems were collected by questionnaire before trial, at time of product change and after trial.
Results: 15 of 38 patients did not complete the protocol, among them 6 with anal canal diameters too small for the smallest plug. During plug use, patients experienced enhanced awareness of repletion and urge. Stool consistence did not change in 82% of patients. There were no changes in children constipated prior to study (n = 8/23). 12,123 children were absolutely clean during use of either plug. 15 patients (68%) using the PU plug and 10 (45%) using the PVA plug felt secure from soiling during plug use. 74% of patients preferred the PU plug. Painful plug insertion, a feeling of pressure inside the anal canal and painful plug removal were reported with both plugs, but were less frequent with the PU plug.
Conclusion: Anal plugs, regardless of their make, offer absolute cleanliness for periods of several hours to 66% of our incontinent patients. The PU plug (Conveen, Coloplast) is preferred by the patients and offers greater security than the PVA plug.