, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 465-472
Date: 06 May 2009

Gastrointestinal transit in children with chronic idiopathic constipation

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Chronic constipation in children is common and produces significant morbidity. Identification of the site of dysmotility in constipation may determine the cause and permit directed management. Scintigraphy differentiates constipated patients with anorectal hold-up from those with colonic slowing. Adults with colonic slowing demonstrate variation in the site of hold-up. However, in children with colonic slowing, variability in the site of hold-up has not been investigated.


The current study aimed to characterise colonic transit patterns in 64 children with chronic idiopathic constipation.


Scintigraphic images were grouped visually by their transit patterns. Intra-observer variation was assessed. Scintigraphic data were analysed quantitatively.


Visual analysis of scintigraphy studies demonstrated normal transit (11/64), anorectal hold-up (7/64) and slow colonic transit (46/64). Transit characteristics in the slow transit group demonstrated three possible subgroups: pancolonic slowing (28/46), discrete hold-up in the transverse colon (10/46) and abnormal small and large bowel transit (8/46). Kappa testing demonstrated consistent characterisation (k = 0.79). Statistical analysis of scintigraphic data demonstrated highly significant differences from normal (P < 0.001) in the subgroups.


Scintigraphy demonstrates three possible transit patterns in children with chronic constipation secondary to slow colonic transit.