Skip directly to content

Obstructive Defecation

Text Increase:
Text Increase Normal
Text Increase Large
Text Increase Largest

Obstructive defecation refers to the inability to pass stool through the digestive tract out the rectum.


The most common symptom of obstructive defecation is feeling more stool remains in your rectum after attempting to pass stool.

Other symptoms include:

  • Passage of hard stools
  • Excessive or prolonged straining while passing stool
  • Routine use of laxatives or enemas

Causes and Risk Factors

Obstructive defecation can be caused by structural deformities due to hereditary, injury, or age, problems with your digestive tract, impacted stool, or neurologic issues.

Women who have had two or more children or had an injury during childbirth which damaged the fascia (the internal tissue that separates the vaginal wall and anus, leading to pelvic floor dysfunction) are at a greater risk for obstructive defecation.

Diagnostic Tests

Your doctor will start with a medical history, do a physical examination, and perform other tests to diagnose obstructive defecation and its underlying cause.

Your doctor may recommend additional tests to aid in diagnosis including:

  • Colonoscopy to view the entire colon andlook for abnormalities
  • Electromyography (EMG) to test for weakness in the pelvic floor muscles and the muscles surrounding the anus
  • Anal manometry  to determine how well the muscles surrounding the anus are working
  • Dynamic defecography to assess bowel function.
  • Sigmoidoscopy to view the sigmoid colon
  • Colonic marker studies to determine the efficiency of your digestive tract

Treatment and Procedures

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your obstructive defecation.

Treatment may include:

  • Medications to alleviate constipation
  • Biofeedback to help you regain control of your muscles
  • Surgery to repair or correct anatomical deformities

Your health is our greatest concern. Please contact the Center for Colon & Rectal Surgery at 407.303.2615for a private consultation today.