Purpose: This study was designed to evaluate the outcome of anterior sphincteroplasty in a large series with ten-year follow-up.
Methods: The long-term results in 191 consecutive patients who were a median of ten years from sphincteroplasty were assessed. A questionnaire was administered to assess current bowel function, degree of incontinence, and quality of life as measured by the Fecal Incontinence Quality of Life Scale. Subjective assessment of early outcome was available for most patients at a median follow-up of three years.
Results: During the follow-up period, three patients died and one developed severe dementia. Five patients required further surgery for incontinence and were considered failures. Of the remaining 182 patients, 130 (71 percent) returned a completed questionnaire. At ten years follow-up, 6 percent had no incontinence, 16 percent were incontinent of gas only, 19 percent had soiling only, and 57 percent were incontinent of solid stool. Results worsened significantly between the assessments at three and ten years. The only significant predictors of a poor outcome were older age and fecal incontinence at three years. Preoperative anorectal physiology studies did not predict outcome. Scores on the Fecal Incontinence Quality of Life Scale were lower in those with fecal incontinence, indicating a poorer disease-specific quality of life.
Conclusions: Only 40 percent of patients maintain fecal continence long-term after sphincteroplasty. Older patients and patients with poorer short-term function are more likely to have fecal incontinence at ten years. Incontinence at ten years had a negative effect on quality of life. Further research is needed to develop techniques to improve long-term continence in these patients.