Proof of concept project

Modelling the Physiology of Faecal Incontinence

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  • Date Published

    March 2016

  • Principal Investigator

    Dr Matthew Oldfield, Imperial College London

  • Co-Investigators

     Dr Peter Culmer, University of Leeds

Summary

Modelling the Physiology of Faecal Incontinence is a project which runs in parallel with another IMPRESS pilot scheme, the Tactile Sensing Caspule project at Bristol Robotics Lab.

Together these projects work towards developing a smart anal plug device for combatting faecal incontinence. This particular project at Imperial College London focussed on understanding the physiological causes of faecal incontinence and aimed to tie them to the design of a device that is able to prevent the symptoms and also offer diagnostic capabilities.

The background for this project is the design of a smart device for fighting faecal incontinence.

In two parallel projects, a sensing modality using TACTIP technology was contributed by the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, an anatomical test rig and material testing was contributed by the University of Leeds, and computational modelling was contributed by Imperial College London – with the latter providing the focus of this report.

It is the on-going ambition of this work to understand the physiological causes of faecal incontinence and tie them to the design of a device that is able to prevent the symptoms and also offer diagnostic capabilities.

An anal plug is one method for alleviating the symptoms of faecal incontinence and it was anticipated that a device of this type, with high resolution pressure sensing, would be able to indicate where physiological damage or weakness was contributing to the condition.

At the University of Leeds, three critical components in the problem of faecal incontinence have been identified, among others, for further study.

These are the anorectal angle and the performance of the internal and external anal sphincters. A phantom consisting of a rectum, anal canal (with sphincters) and puborectalis muscle were used as a basis for their investigation.

The principal aim of the work presented here is to develop a numerical platform that captures the anatomical features of the test rig, enables investigation of physiological behaviour and can contribute to the most effective design of a smart device addressing faecal incontinence.

A secondary aim is to provide a modelling environment that can be used for future analysis, including development to include the flow of faecal matter.

Image taken from report

Incontinence Management & PRevention through Engineering and ScienceS