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Anal Sphincter EMG


Updated April 18, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.


An anal sphincter electromyography (EMG) is a test of the electrical activity within the muscles of the anal sphincter. The test is used to gain further understanding of defecation difficulties, such as constipation and fecal incontinence.

The test involves the insertion of an electrode within your anal canal. You may be asked to relax and squeeze the muscles in the area and to push down as if having a bowel movement. While you are doing this, a computer is assessing and recording the electrical activity of your anal sphincter. This gives your doctor information as to whether the muscle is squeezing and relaxing as it should, which aids in a better understanding of what might be behind your defecation symptoms.

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