Seventy four patients with constipation were examined by standard evacuation proctography and then attempted to expel a small, non-deformable rectal balloon, connected to a pressure transducer to measure intrarectal pressure. Simultaneous imaging related the intrarectal position of the balloon to rectal deformity. Inability to expel the balloon was associated proctographically with prolonged evacuation, incomplete evacuation, reduced anal canal diameter, and acute anorectal angulation during evacuation. The presence and size of rectocoele or intussusception was unrelated to voiding of paste or balloon. An independent linear combination of pelvic floor descent and evacuation time on proctography correctly predicted maximum intrarectal pressure in 74% of cases. No patient with both prolonged evacuation and reduced pelvic floor descent on proctography could void the balloon, as maximum intrarectal pressure was reduced in this group. A prolonged evacuation time on proctography, in combination with reduced pelvic floor descent, suggests defecatory disorder may be caused by inability to raise intrarectal pressure. A diagnosis of anismus should not be made on proctography solely on the basis of incomplete/prolonged evacuation, as this may simply reflect inadequate straining.
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