Balloon sphincterography - Clinical findings after 200 patients

Christopher J. Lahr, David A. Cherry, Linda L. Jensen, David A. Rothenberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


There are two muscular mechanisms of fecal continence. The anal sphincter squeezes the anal canal, thus lengthening it and increasing its resistance. The puborectalis kinks the distal rectum, preventing the transmission of intra-abdominal pressures into the anal canal. Balloon sphincterography simultaneously records the shape of the anal canal and distal rectum and measures the strength of the puborectalis and anal sphincter muscles. This allows the physician to evaluate the function of these important muscles in patients with symptomatic defecation disorders such as constipation, incontinence, and rectal prolapse. A cylindrical balloon is connected by a hose to a fluid reservoir filled with liquid barium. The deflated balloon is placed into the anal canal and inflated by raising the fluid reservoir in increments. Fluoroscopy visualizes the balloon's shape and video records the results. Quantitative sphincterogram measurements in patients with defecation disorders include (the three measurements in each category refer respectively to incontinent patients [N=87], prolapse patients without incontinence [N=26], and constipated patients [N=65]); anorectal angle (degrees+S.D.):114+28, 103+18, 95+19; anal canal length (mm+S.D.): 33+11, 38+10, 39+10; squeeze pressure (cm H2O+S.D.):68+23, 80+16, 91+22, and opening pressure (cm H2O+S.D.):52+25, 67+22, 81+24. The method is useful in identifying specific defects, such as paradoxic puborectalis contractions, that can cause constipation, and injuries to the sphincters that can cause incontinence. In over 280 patients with a wide variety of defecation disorders, sphincterography has yielded information not available by standard manometric techniques. It augments the findings of defecography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-351
Number of pages5
JournalDiseases of the Colon & Rectum
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1988


  • Anal canal length
  • Anal manometry
  • Anorectal angle
  • Balloon sphincterography
  • Defecography
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Paradoxic puborectalis
  • Rectal prolapse
  • Stiff perineum


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