The effects of clonidine on symptoms and anorectal sensorimotor function in women with faecal incontinence

A. E. Bharucha, B. M. Seide, A. R. Zinsmeister

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19 Scopus citations


Background Women with faecal incontinence and rectal urgency have increased rectal stiffness and sensation. Aim To evaluate the effects of clonidine, an α2-adrenergic agonist, in faecal incontinence. Methods In this open-label uncontrolled study, bowel symptoms and anorectal functions (anal pressures, rectal compliance, and sensation) were assessed before and during treatment with transdermal clonidine (0.2 mg daily, 4 weeks) in 12 women with urge-predominant faecal incontinence. Results Clonidine reduced the frequency (17.8 ± 3.1 before vs. 8.8 ± 3.9 after, P = 0.03) and number of days with faecal incontinence (11.8 ± 1.6 before vs. 6.1 ± 1.8 after, P = 0.02), faecal incontinence symptom severity score (max = 13, 8.3 ± 0.7 vs. 5.6 ± 0.9, P < 0.01), and allowed patients to defer defecation for a longer duration (P = 0.03). Although overall effects on anorectal functions were not significant, the treatment-associated reduction in faecal incontinence episodes was associated with increased rectal compliance (r = -0.58, P < 0.05) and reduced rectal sensation. (r = -0.73, P = 0.007 vs. desire to defecate pressure threshold). Conclusions Clonidine improves symptoms in women with faecal incontinence; this improvement is associated with increased rectal compliance and reduced rectal sensitivity. A controlled study is necessary to confirm these observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)681-688
Number of pages8
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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