Eleven paraplegic patients with complete traumatic spinal cord injuries (SCI) [according to American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) criteria] at different levels (Th3-L3) were investigated during non-painful stimulation of the distal rectum and anal canal, using event related functional magnetic resonance imaging. Although a complete lesion was clinically diagnosed in all, four of them experienced reproducible sensations during anal and/or rectal stimulation. In six patients, individual data analysis revealed significant activation in the right secondary somatosensory cortex SII, the posterior cingular gyrus, the prefrontal cortex, and the left posterior cerebellar lobe during either anal or rectal stimulation or both. A Region of interest analysis using a data mask from healthy controls confirmed that SCI patients demonstrate cortical activation in areas similar to those activated in healthy volunteers, but to a less extensive degree. This supports the notion that the diagnosis of complete spinal cord transsection by ASIA criteria alone may be insufficient for assessment of 'completeness' of cord lesions, and that visceral sensitivity testing may be required in addition.