Comparative effectiveness of biofeedback and injectable bulking agents for treatment of fecal incontinence: Design and methods

Adil E. Bharucha, Marie G. Gantz, Satish S. Rao, Ann C. Lowry, Heidi Chua, Tennekoon Karunaratne, Jennifer Wu, Frank A. Hamilton, William E. Whitehead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Fecal incontinence (FI), the involuntary passage of stool, is common and can markedly impair the quality of life. Among patients who fail initial options (pads or protective devices, bowel modifying agents, and pelvic floor exercises), the options are pelvic floor biofeedback (BIO), perianal injection with bulking agents (INJ), and sacral nerve electrical stimulation (SNS), which have not been subjected to head-to-head comparisons. This study will compare the safety and efficacy of BIO and INJ for managing FI. The impact of these approaches on quality-of-life and psychological distress, cost effectiveness, and predictors of response to therapy will also be evaluated. Six centers in the United States will enroll approximately 285 patients with moderate to severe FI. Patients who have 4 or more FI episodes over 2 weeks proceed to a 4-week trial of enhanced medical management (EMM) (ie, education, bowel management, and pelvic floor exercises). Thereafter, 194 non-responders as defined by a less than 75% reduction in the frequency of FI will be randomized to BIO or INJ. Three months later, the efficacy, safety, and cost of therapy will be assessed; non-responders will be invited to choose to add the other treatment or SNS for the remainder of the study. Early EMM responders will be re-evaluated 3 months later and non-responders randomized to BIO or INJ. Standardized, and where appropriate validated approaches will be used for study procedures, which will be performed by trained personnel. Prospectively collected data on care costs and resource utilization will be used for cost effectiveness analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106464
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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