OBJECTIVE: To investigate anorectal function in women patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc), with and without lower gastrointestinal symptoms. METHODS: Anorectal manometry was performed in 16 patients with SSc: six with no or minimal bowel symptoms, seven with constipation, and three with diarrhoea and faecal incontinence. Eleven healthy women acted as control subjects. Pressure data were recorded via an eight lumen polyvinylchloride water perfused catheter. Station and rapid pull through techniques were used. RESULTS: In the patients with SSc, mean resting pressure, maximal voluntary squeeze effort, and squeeze vector volume were lower, and squeeze asymmetry was greater, compared with the healthy controls. Differences were significant in the subgroup with constipation. CONCLUSION: Radial asymmetry and vector volume parameters provide detailed analysis of segmental anal canal function. Our findings suggest significant segmental deficits in those patients with SSc who have lower gastrointestinal symptoms. The trend towards smaller pressures and squeeze vector volumes in the asymptomatic SSc group suggests subclinical dysfunction in these patients.
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