Rectal hyposensitivity

Rebecca E. Burgell, S. Mark Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Impaired or blunted rectal sensation, termed rectal hyposensitivity (RH), which is defined clinically as elevated sensory thresholds to rectal balloon distension, is associated with disorders of hindgut function, characterised primarily by symptoms of constipation and fecal incontinence. However, its role in symptom generation and the pathogenetic mechanisms underlying the sensory dysfunction remain incompletely understood, although there is evidence that RH may be due to 'primary' disruption of the afferent pathway, 'secondary' to abnormal rectal biomechanics, or to both. Nevertheless, correction of RH by various interventions (behavioural, neuromodulation, surgical) is associated with, and may be responsible for, symptomatic improvement. This review provides a contemporary overview of RH, focusing on diagnosis, clinical associations, pathophysiology, and treatment paradigms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-384
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Constipation
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Rectal hyposensitivity

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