A diagnostic test is useful if it can provide information regarding the underlying pathophysiology, confirm a clinical suspicion, or guide clinical management. In a prospective study, anorectal manometry was shown not only to confirm a clinical impression, but also to provide new information that was not detected clinically.28 The information obtained from these studies influenced the management and outcome of patients with defecation disorders (Table 1). These findings have been confirmed further by another study that showed colorectal physiologic tests provided a definitive diagnosis in 75% of patients with constipation, 66% of patients with incontinence, and 42% of patients with intractable anorectal pain.49 A systematic and careful appraisal of anorectal function can provide invaluable information that can guide treatment of patients with anorectal disorders. A more uniform method of performing these tests and interpreting the results is needed to facilitate a wider use of this technology for the assessment of patients with anorectal disorders.
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