|| The purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between bowel maneuvers and autonomic dysreflexia (AD) in patients with cervical spinal cord injuries (CSCI). Fifteen consecutive, clinically stable patients with CSCI participated. We evaluated changes in blood pressure (BP), pulse rate (PR) and classic symptoms of AD before, during and after a bowel program involving the manual removal of stool in lateral recumbency. The insertion of rectal medication induced a significant increase in systolic BP, which persisted during additional digital rectal stimulation. Furthermore, the manual removal of stool induced AD, with maximal increases of systolic BP (169.1(+-)19.5 mmHg, mean(+-)SD). However, the insertion of a finger into the anus after the end of stool flow did not cause a further increase in systolic BP. Systolic BP recovered to pre-program values within 5 min after defecation. Our study demonstrated that the combined effects of rectal and/or anal sphincter distension and uninhibited rectal contraction in response to the manual removal of stool might induce AD. We recommend avoiding, if at all possible, the manual removal of stool in order to prevent AD in patients with CSCI.