Freimanis MG, Wald A, Caruana B, Bauman DH. Evacuation proctography in normal volunteers. Invest Radiol 1991;26:581-585.
Constipated patients evaluated by evacuation proctography may be subjected to vigorous medical therapy or surgery, even colectomy, based on radiographic findings that have been called “abnormal” in the literature. Criteria for normal defecography are not uniformly established, nor has correlation of structural or functional findings with symptoms been clearly documented. We prospectively studied 21 asymptomatic volunteers to assess the frequency of findings in a control population, and to establish a quantitative measure of normal rectal emptying. Standard defecography technique demonstrated rectocele, intussusception, pelvic descent, or puborectalis spasm in 14/21 volunteers (67%). The range of rectal emptying was 12.5% to 100%, with four subjects (19%) evacuating ≤ 40% of the barium paste. There was no correlation between severity of radiographic findings and degree of evacuation. Defecography results in patients being considered for symptomatic intervention should be interpreted cautiously, given the wide range of normal variation in a control population.
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