OBJECTIVE: Although tests of anorectal function are useful in the assessment of defecation disorders, there is inadequate and inconsistent information regarding normative data. Also, there are discrepancies in manometric techniques and data interpretation. Our aim was to perform a comprehensive evaluation of anorectal function in healthy adults. METHODS: We used a 6-mm diameter probe containing six radially arrayed microtransducers, and a 4-cm-long latex balloon for performing anorectal manometry in 45 healthy subjects who were controlled for gender and age. Sequentially, subjects were asked to squeeze, bear down, or blow up a party balloon. Subsequently, rectal sensation, rectal compliance, and rectoanal reflexes were assessed simultaneously by performing intermittent phasic balloon distentions. Additionally, balloon defecation, pudendal nerve latency, and saline continence tests were performed. RESULTS: In men, the anal sphincter was longer (p < 0.05) and squeeze sphincter pressure and squeeze duration were higher (p < 0.01), but resting sphincter pressure was similar to that in women. When bearing down, although not significant, the defecation index was higher in men. Distinct thresholds for rectal sensation were identified but there was no gender difference. Likewise, rectal compliance and balloon expulsion time were similar. However, during saline infusion, the onset of first leak and total volume retained were higher (p < 0.001) and pudendal nerve latency was shorter (p < 0.05) in men. Overall, parity or age did not influence anorectal function. CONCLUSIONS: This study represents the most comprehensive age- and gender-controlled assessment of anorectal function using solid state technology. Gender influences some parameters of anorectal function. Our results could serve as a valuable resource of normative data.
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