Background: Treatment of solitary rectal ulcer syndrome with behavioral techniques (biofeedback) has been shown to be successful in a majority of patients in the short term. We aimed to determine the longer-term outcome of patients treated with this therapy.
Patients and methods: Thirteen consecutive patients (3 male; median age, 34 years) with solitary rectal ulcer who had been treated by biofeedback and assessed a median of nine months after treatment were reassessed by questionnaire. Three patients were also examined using rigid sigmoidoscopy.
Results: Median follow up was 36 (range, 32-59) months after initial biofeedback treatment. One patient (previously reported as failing biofeedback therapy) was lost to follow-up. Of the four patients previously reported as asymptomatic, one remained asymptomatic, one maintained marked improvement, and another slight improvement; one had reverted to pretreatment status. Of the three patients previously reported as having marked improvement, one maintained moderate improvement, and two had reverted to pretreatment status. The patient previously reporting slight improvement had reverted to pretreatment status. Of the five previously reported failures, two patients experienced no improvement after further courses of biofeedback. At the three different times of review (pretreatment vs. 9 months vs. 36 months after biofeedback), reported bowel function was as follows: the need to strain (12 vs. 5 vs. 9 patients), anal digitation (10 vs. 3 vs. 8 patients), laxative use (9 vs. 4 vs. 4 patients), median time spent in the toilet per attempt at defecation (30 vs. 10 vs. 25 minutes), median visits to the toilet (5.5 vs. 2 vs. 4 per day), and ability to maintain employment (3 vs. 7 vs. 6 patients).
Conclusion: Improvement in symptoms of solitary rectal ulcer syndrome after biofeedback retraining deteriorates in some patients with time. Half the patients with an early clinical response to retraining, however, can be expected to have ongoing clinical benefit at a median of three years.