St Mark's HospitalLondon North West Healthcare

Anorectal Physiology Service 

This page aims to provide you with information about your forthcoming tests and so avoid unnecessary worries about these tests. There is no need to prepare the bowel for the tests and you will be able to proceed to your normal activities afterwards. Before commencing with any of the function tests a medical history is taken. This will include specific questions on your bowel complaint, any medication that you may be taking, surgery that you may have had and, where applicable, your child bearing history.

The Physiology Function tests

After the history has been taken the tests will be explained to you. The tests look at the way in which the muscles and nerves around the anal canal are working together. Some very small catheters are introduced into the anal canal to take the measurements. Once the function tests and any other investigations have been completed you may need to come back to the clinic to see a doctor / consultant to discuss your results.

Commonly asked questions:

How long will it take?

The session usually takes about half an hour but the tests will take less than half of this time.

Why do I need the physiology function tests?

This service, only available in some specialist colorectal units, provides you and your Doctor with information on the function of the lower end of the bowel. Together with tests such as an ultrasound or an X-ray, which show the anatomy of this region, these tests give the information necessary to select the best treatment or therapy for your complaint.

Is it painful?

No, it is not painful although a slight discomfort may be felt if you are already sore in the anal region. It is very important that you relax as much as possible, not only for yourself but also for the person conducting the investigation.

Can the tests be performed during menstruation?

Yes, this will not affect the tests in any way.

Confidentiality

As with any medical report all information obtained from the function tests is strictly confidential.

One of the main aims of the session is to make sure that you understand why and what is happening. Also that you feel as relaxed and at ease as much as possible.