For sphincter damage: Cases of incontinence caused by damage to the anal sphincter during childbirth, or because of treatments for colorectal cancer or other causes, can be surgically treated. Several approaches can be used to repair a partially damaged anal sphincter. If the sphincter is too severely damaged, an artificial sphincter device can be inserted that keeps the anal opening tightly closed until it is manually released.
For nerve damage: In cases where the fecal incontinence is caused by damage to the nerves that control the anus, sacral nerve stimulation can help. For example, Medtronic has developed a small device (the InterStim system) that is implanted under the skin and acts to stimulate the sacral nerves with low-level pulses of electricity. This treatment improves communication between the brain and the bowel and can help restore anal control in many individuals.
If all other treatments fail and the fecal incontinence is severe, a colostomy to divert the stool to an external bag is an option. Although this approach sounds unpleasant, it can significantly restore quality of life and self-confidence. Many individuals who suffer from uncontrolled fecal incontinence become house-bound and avoid interacting with others, but a colostomy can prevent accidents and restore an individual’s ability to control the final release of their stool.