BACKGROUND: Whether defecation is influenced by body position or stool characteristics is unclear. AIM: We investigated effects of body position, presence of stool-like sensation, and stool form on defecation patterns and manometric profiles. METHODS: Rectal and anal pressures were assessed in 25 healthy volunteers during attempted defecation either in the lying or sitting positions and with balloon-filled or empty rectum. Subjects also expelled a water-filled (50 cc) balloon or silicone-stool (FECOM) either lying or sitting and rated their stooling sensation. RESULTS: When attempting to defecate in the lying position, a dyssynergic pattern was seen in 36% of subjects with empty rectum and 24% with distended rectum. When sitting, 20% showed dyssynergia with empty rectum and 8% with distended rectum. More subjects (p < 0.05) showed dyssynergia in lying position. When lying, 60% could not expel balloon and 44% FECOM. When sitting, fewer (p < 0.05) failed to expel balloon (16%) or FECOM (4%). FECOM expulsion time was quicker (p < 0.02). Stool-like sensation was more commonly (p < 0.005) evoked by FECOM than balloon. CONCLUSIONS: In the lying position, one-third showed dyssynergia and one-half could not expel artificial stool. Whereas when sitting with distended rectum, most showed normal defecation pattern and ability to expel stool. Thus, body position, sensation of stooling and stool characteristics may each influence defecation. Defecation is best evaluated in the sitting position with artificial stool.
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