Anorectal manometry for the diagnosis of pelvic floor disorders in patients with hypermobility spectrum disorders and hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

BMC Gastroenterol. 2022 Dec 23;22(1):538. doi: 10.1186/s12876-022-02572-8.


Introduction: Functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID) including impaired rectal evacuation are common in patients with Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD) or Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS). The effect of connective tissue pathologies on pelvic floor function in HSD/hEDS remains unclear. We aimed to compare clinical characteristics and anorectal pressure profile in patients with HSD/hEDS to those of age and sex matched controls.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of all FGID patients who underwent high resolution anorectal manometry (HR-ARM) and balloon expulsion test (BET) for evaluation of impaired rectal evacuation. Patients with HSD/hEDS were age and sex matched to a randomly selected cohort of control patients without HSD/hEDS. An abnormal BET was defined as the inability to expel a rectal balloon within 2 minutes. Wilcoxon rank sum test and Fisher's exact test were used to make comparisons and logistic regression model for predictive factors for abnormal evacuation.

Results: A total of 144 patients (72 with HSD/hEDS and 72 controls) were analyzed. HSD/hEDS patients were more likely to be Caucasian (p < 0.001) and nulliparous. Concurrent psychiatric disorders; depression, and anxiety (p < 0.05), and somatic syndromes; fibromyalgia, migraine and sleep disorders (p < 0.001) were more common in these patients. Rate of abnormal BET were comparable among the groups. HDS/hEDS patients had significantly less anal relaxation and higher residual anal pressures during simulated defecation, resulting in significantly more negative rectoanal pressure gradient. The remaining anorectal pressure profile and sensory levels were comparable between the groups. While diminished rectoanal pressure gradient was the determinant of abnormal balloon evacuation in non HSD/hEDS patients, increased anal resting tone and maximum volume tolerated were independent factors associated with an abnormal BET in HSD/hEDS patients. Review of defecography data from a subset of patients showed no significant differences in structural pathologies between HSD/hEDS and non HSD/hEDS patients.

Conclusions: These results suggest anorectal pressure profile is not compromised by connective tissue pathologies in HSD patients. Whether concurrent psychosomatic disorders or musculoskeletal involvement impact the pelvic floor function in these patients needs further investigation.

Keywords: Anorectal manometry; EhlersDanlos syndrome (EDS); Pelvic floor disorders; Psychosomatic disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Anal Canal
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome* / complications
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Manometry / methods
  • Pelvic Floor Disorders* / complications
  • Pelvic Floor Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Rectum

Supplementary concepts

  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type 3