Anorectal physiology and ultrasound
Why are these tests performed?
These are very commonly performed test for people with incontinence, prolapse and obstructed defaecation syndrome. They are standard tests that tell us about the function and structure of the anal canal and lower rectum.
What preparation is needed for the tests?
You will be given instructions about when and where to come for the test. There is no particular preparation required.
What do the tests involve?
The tests take about 45 minutes to perform including the specialist performing your test asking you some detailed questions about your symptoms in order to tailor the tests to your problem.
The anorectal physiology examination measures the strength of your sphincter muscle and this involves inserting a probe into the anal canal. The probe is only slightly thicker than a piece of spaghetti. The next part of the test involves passing a balloon into your rectum attached to a piece of fine tubing to assess the sensation or feeling in your bowel. Finally, the physiologist will usually perform a rectal examination.
The ultrasound part of the test looks at the structure of the anal sphincter muscles and the lower rectum. It requires the physiologist to insert the ultrasound probe into the anal canal. The probe usually has to go in no more than 5cm (2 inches). The probe is about the same thickness as a pen.
What happens after the tests?
You will usually be completely comfortable after the tests and able to drive home and/or go back to work immediately. The tests are analysed and a result will be sent to your surgeon. These results will be discussed with you in the out-patient department.