Original Article

Pediatric Surgery International

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 473-478

First online:

Standard medical therapies do not alter colonic transit time in children with treatment-resistant slow-transit constipation

  • Melanie C. C. ClarkeAffiliated withSurgical Research Group, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital
  • , Janet W. ChaseAffiliated withSurgical Research Group, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital
  • , Susie GibbAffiliated withContinence Clinic, Royal Children’s Hospital
  • , Anthony G. Catto-SmithAffiliated withDepartment of Gastroenterology, Royal Children’s Hospital
  • , John M. HutsonAffiliated withSurgical Research Group, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children’s HospitalDepartment of Paediatrics, University of MelbourneDepartment of General Surgery, Royal Children’s Hospital Email author 
  • , Bridget R. SouthwellAffiliated withSurgical Research Group, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children’s HospitalDepartment of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne

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Abstract

Background

Slow transit constipation (STC) is a form of chronic constipation characterised by prolonged passage of faecal matter through the colon. It is diagnosed by demonstrating delayed colonic transit on gastrointestinal transit studies. Traditionally, radio-opaque marker studies are performed. Recently, radioisotope nuclear transit studies (NTS) have been used in our centre to assess gastrointestinal transit time. This study aimed to evaluate if there are changes in colonic transit in STC children resistant to standard medical treatment over a prolonged period.

Methods

Children with STC resistant to standard medical therapy for ≥2 years who had undergone two separate NTS to assess their colonic transit (where the first study had identified slow colonic transit without anorectal retention) were identified after ethical approval. The geometric centre (GC) of radioisotope activity at 6, 24, 30 and 48 h was compared in the two transit studies to determine if changes occurred.

Results

Seven children (4 males) with proven STC resistant to standard medical therapy and two transit studies performed at different times were identified. Mean age was 7.0 years (5.4–10.8 years) at first study, and 11.4 years (9.7–14.2 years) at second study, with a mean of 4.4 years (1–8.5 years) between studies. There was no significant difference in colonic transit at any timepoint in the two tests (paired t test).

Conclusions

We conclude that nuclear transit studies are reproducible in assessing slow colonic transit in children with treatment-resistant STC and demonstrate that conventional medical treatment over many years has no effect on underlying colonic motility.

Keywords

Nuclear transit study Scintigraphy Reproducibility Slow transit constipation Children