Anorectal function has been assessed in 53 patients with Crohn's disease by measurement of resting and squeeze anal canal pressures and the maximum volume tolerated during distension of a balloon in the rectum. Radiographs of the rectum from barium enema examination were also reviewed to assess rectal capacity. Thirty-three patients have had a colectomy and ileorectal anastomosis for Crohn's colitis of whom 13 now have a stoma because they either required a protectomy (n=9) or where closure of a loop ileostomy had not been possible (n=4) because of severe anorectal disease. The maximum tolerated volume was less than 150 ml in 12 of 13 patients who now have a stoma compared with none of the 20 patients who have a functioning anastomosis. Although the correlation between a radiological assessment of rectal capacity and the maximum tolerated volume was poor, a severely contracted rectum was associated with the need for a stoma in six of seven patients compared with only two of 13 patients who did not have radiological signs of a narrow rectum.
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