A Comparison of Function Lumen Imaging Probe Measurements of Anal Sphincter Function in Fecal Incontinence

Alexander O'Connor, Donghua Liao, Asbjørn Mohr Drewes, Abhiram Sharma, Dipesh H. Vasant, John Mclaughlin, Edward Kiff, Karen Telford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The functional lumen imaging probe (FLIP) is a novel test of anal sphincter distensibility under evaluation by specialist centers. Two measurement protocols termed ‘stepwise’ and ‘ramp’ are used, risking a lack of standardization. This study aims to compare the performance of these protocols to establish if there are differences between them.

Patients with fecal incontinence were recruited and underwent measurement with both protocols at a tertiary pelvic floor referral unit. Differences in minimum diameter, FLIP bag pressure, and distensibility index (DI) at rest and during squeeze were calculated at various FLIP bag volumes.

Key Results
Twenty patients (19 female, mean age 61 [range: 38 – 78]) were included. The resting minimum diameter at 30ml and 40ml bag volumes were less in the stepwise protocol (mean bias: -0.55mm & -1.18mm, p < 0.05) along with the DI at the same bag volumes (mean bias: -0.37mm2/mmHg & -0.55 mm2/mmHg, p < 0.05). There was also a trend towards greater bag pressures at 30ml (mean bias: +2.08 mmHg, p = 0.114) and 40ml (mean bias: +2.81 mmHg, p = 0.129) volumes in the stepwise protocol. There were no differences between protocols in measurements of minimum diameter, maximum bag pressure, or DI during voluntary squeeze (p > 0.05).

Conclusion & Inferences
There are differences between the two commonly described FLIP measurement protocols at rest, although there are no differences in the assessment of squeeze function. Consensus agreement is required to agree the most appropriate FLIP measurement protocol in assessing anal sphincter function.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Mar 2024


  • Anal Sphincter
  • Functional Lumen Imaging Probe
  • Distensibility
  • Sphincter Function
  • Fecal Incontinence


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