In the literature on chronic spinal cord injury, neurogenic bowel dysfunction has not gained as much attention as bladder dysfunction, the traditional cause of morbidity and mortality.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of fecal incontinence and conditions associated with fecal incontinence in women with spinal cord injury.

In this cross-sectional study, data were obtained from an electronic medical chart database containing standardized questionnaires.

The study was conducted at the Clinic for Spinal Cord Injuries, Rigshospitalet, where patients from Eastern Denmark are followed every second year.

Women who sustained a spinal cord injury between September 1999 and August 2016 and attended a consultation between August 2010 and August 2016 were included. If the bowel function questionnaire had never been answered, the woman was excluded.

The newest completed questionnaire regarding bowel function, urinary bladder function, quality of life, neurologic level/completeness/etiology of injury, mobility status, and spousal relationship was obtained from each woman.

Among the 733 identified women, 684 were included, of whom only 11% had a complete motor injury. A total of 35% experienced fecal incontinence, varying from daily to less than monthly, and 79% experienced bowel dysfunction. Fecal incontinence was associated with urinary incontinence and decreased satisfaction with life in general and psychological health. In the multivariate logistic regression analysis, the odds of daily monthly fecal incontinence increased significantly with increasing age, myelomeningocele as etiology of injury, a more complete paraplegic injury, use of wheelchair permanently, and follow-up <3 months.

There were missing data in the study, including 12% with no answer to the fecal incontinence question.

Fecal incontinence is a severe problem that affects more than one third of women with spinal cord injury and is associated with decreased quality of life. The present study emphasizes that women with myelomeningocele, a more complete paraplegic injury, older age, short follow-up period, and permanent wheelchair use have an increased risk of fecal incontinence. See Video Abstract at

Diseases of the colon and rectum. 2019 Jul 12 [Epub ahead of print]

Marlene Elmelund, Niels Klarskov, Fin Biering-Sørensen

Clinic for Spinal Cord Injuries, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark., Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.