Incidence, risk factors, and outcomes of fecal incontinence after acute brain injury: Findings from the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems national database

Academic Article


  • Objective: To investigate the incidence, risk factors, and outcome in patients with fecal incontinence after acute brain injury. Design: A retrospective study of the incidence of and risk factors contributing to fecal incontinence, and outcomes at admission to and discharge from inpatient rehabilitation and at 1-year follow-up. Setting: Medical centers in the federally sponsored Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS). Participants: A total of 1013 consecutively enrolled rehabilitation inpatients from 17 TBIMS centers who were admitted to acute care within 24 hours of traumatic brain injury and seen at 1-year postinjury between 1990 and 2000. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Incidence of fecal incontinence, length of coma, length of posttraumatic amnesia (PTA), admission Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, length of stay (LOS), FIM™ instrument scores, disposition at discharge and follow-up, and incidences of pelvic fracture, frontal contusion, and urinary tract infection (UTI). Results: The incidence of fecal incontinence was 68% at admission to inpatient rehabilitation, 12.4% at rehabilitation discharge, and 5.2% at 1-year follow-up. Analysis of variance and chi-square analyses revealed statistically significant associations between the incidence of fecal incontinence at rehabilitation admission and admission GCS score, length of coma and PTA, LOS, and incidence of UTI and frontal contusion. Fecal incontinence at rehabilitation discharge was significantly associated with several variables, including age, discharge disposition, admission GCS score, length of coma, PTA, LOS, FIM scores, and incidence of pelvic fracture and frontal contusion. Significant associations were also found between fecal incontinence at 1-year follow-up and age, discharge and current 1-year disposition, admission GCS score, length of coma, LOS, FIM scores, and incidence of UTI (P<.05). Although logistic regression analyses were significant (P<.001), and predicted continence with 100% accuracy, demographics, injury characteristics, medical complications, and functional outcomes did not predict incontinence at discharge and at 1-year follow-up. Conclusions: Fecal incontinence is a significant problem after brain injury. Certain factors may increase its likelihood. Further studies evaluating mechanisms of fecal incontinence and treatment or control interventions would be useful. © 2003 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
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    Author List

  • Foxx-Orenstein A; Kolakowsky-Hayner S; Marwitz JH; Cifu DX; Dunbar A; Englander J; Francisco G
  • Start Page

  • 231
  • End Page

  • 237
  • Volume

  • 84
  • Issue

  • 2