Encopresis is the involuntary discharge of feces (ie, fecal incontinence). In most cases, it is the consequence of chronic constipation and resulting overflow incontinence. Encopresis, also called stool holding or soiling, occurs when a child resists having bowel movements, causing impacted stool to collect in the colon and rectum. When child's colon is full of impacted stool, liquid stool can leak around the impacted stool and out of the anus, staining the child's underwear.
The common signs and symptoms of encopresis may include:
Diagnosis and Treatment
The doctor may feel the stool stuck in the child’s rectum (fecal impaction). An x-ray of the child’s belly may show impacted stool in the colon. Despite the frequency with which childhood encopresis occurs, no large, randomized, controlled therapeutic trials have been conducted. s a result, treatment remains largely experiential rather than evidence based.
Although few prospective studies have been conducted to examine the prevalence of encopresis in childhood, it is estimated that 1-2% of children younger than 10 years have encopresis. Nearly all of the few published population-based studies examining the prevalence of encopresis have been conducted in Ireland.In one such study nearly 4.1% of children aged 5-6 years and 1.6% of children aged 11-12 years experienced fecal soiling at least once per month. In nearly all published series, boys are much more commonly affected than girls. In most series, approximately 80% of affected children are boys.