An attempt is made to focus attention again on the problem of fecal incontinence in women which exists far more commonly than is generally recognized. The author's experience with 40 cases is reviewed. The anatomy and physiology of the anorectal area are discussed in some detail. A theory is postulated explaining the reasons for the symptomatology of fecal incontinence found in these patients, and several important surgical principles are discussed. A careful history and the proper physical examination of the perineal body and anorectal area are emphasized. The physician who is responsible for obstetric care must be more aware of the potential consequences of a poorly repaired third or fourth degree perineal laceration or procto-episiotomy.
© 1973 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists