• Reference Number: HEY-028/2016
  • Departments: GI Physiology


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your therapy.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet. It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your doctor, but may act as a starting point for discussion. If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team caring for you.

What is biofeedback?

You have probably been troubled by bowel symptoms for example constipation or faecal incontinence. Following discussion with your doctor, they have advised you that biofeedback therapy may help with your bowel symptoms.

Biofeedback is a form of therapy using exercises and lifestyle changes to try and improve your bowel symptoms.

Why do I need biofeedback?

Biofeedback is used as a therapy to try and improve your bowel symptoms. It is often tried before some surgical procedures.

Can there be any complications or risks?

This is a safe treatment with no known risks or complications.

How do I prepare for biofeedback?

Please read the information leaflet. Share the information it contains with your partner and family (if you wish) so that they can be of help and support. There may be information they need to know, especially if they are taking care of you following this examination.

The only preparation for biofeedback is the completion of a bowel diary and questionnaire before your appointment. The bowel diary should be completed for 14 days prior to your appointment – if you have a short notice appointment, please complete as many days as possible. The instructions for completion are on the form.

You can eat and drink as normal and you will be able to resume your normal activities after your biofeedback session.

What will happen?

You should go to the Department of GI Physiology, which is situated next to Ward 14 (1st floor) at Castle Hill Hospital.

You will be seen by a member of staff from the Department of GI Physiology team. Your first appointment will be a discussion only and not involve any physical examination. You and your healthcare professional will discuss your bowel symptoms so that the appropriate biofeedback program can be tailored to your needs. You will be provided with biofeedback information to take home and read.

A follow-up appointment will be arranged to suit your needs.

If you are finding the exercises difficult to carry out mention this at your next biofeedback appointment. It may be necessary to insert a small probe which has a pressure sensor built into it into your anal canal. Exercises can then be watched on the computer screen. Some patients find this useful when trying to make the anal canal muscles work better.

What happens afterwards?

You will be given some information to take away and read which contains the exercises discussed at your appointment.

You will have regular hospital appointments but the majority of the work will be done by you outside of your hospital appointments. It is important that you do your exercises as set out at your first appointment on a daily basis – improvement will only be possible if you are well motivated and prepared to work at your exercises. You will be assessed at regular intervals in order to determine improvement. You will be offered advice on ways to try and help manage your symptoms and where appropriate will be given information leaflets. Any improvement may take quite a while to notice but it is important that you continue with your exercises.

It is very important that you continue with the biofeedback exercises for the treatment to work and attend your follow-up appointments. Patients who do not attend appointments without notification will be withdrawn from the programme. You will be given a follow-up appointment after each visit if appropriate.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Department of GI Physiology on telephone (01482) 624036.

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.