Advertisement

Diarrhea pp 299-310 | Cite as

Factitious Diarrhea

  • Erica N. Roberson
  • Arnold Wald
Chapter
Part of the Clinical Gastroenterology book series (CG)

Summary

Factitious diarrhea is an intentionally self-inflicted disorder which is motivated either internally by assuming a sick role or externally by money, health benefits, etc. The keys to diagnosis are suspicion and use of readily available stool and urine tests. Since factitious diarrhea is not uncommon and many tests used to evaluate chronic diarrhea are invasive and expensive, it is reasonable to perform a series of basic studies to evaluate for factitious diarrhea early in such an evaluation. Surreptitious laxative use is the most common etiology of factitious diarrhea and can present with volume depletion and an altered biochemical profile. Magnesium-containing laxatives will cause osmotic diarrhea; a high stool osmolar gap and stool magnesium level of more than 90 Meq/L will be present. Stimulant laxatives may cause non-gap diarrhea and can easily be detected in the urine. Any osmolality less than normal (290 mOsmol/kg) indicates dilutional diarrhea, usually the addition of urine or water to stool. All cases of factitious diarrhea should be well documented in the medical record to avoid future unnecessary testing.

Key Words

Factitious disorder (Munchausen syndrome) Malingering Munchausen by proxy (Polle syndrome) Factitious diarrhea Diarrhea Laxatives Bisacodyl Senna Magnesium salt Anthraquinones Melanosis coli (f) Sodium picosulfate Ipecac Stool osmotic gap Osmolarity stool Thin layer chromatography Dilutional diarrhea Osmotic diarrhea Stool osmolality Non-gap diarrhea Miralax 

References

  1. 1.
    American Psychiatric Association. American Psychiatric Association. Task Force on DSM-IV. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV, 4th edn. Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1994.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Savino AC, Fordtran JS. Factitious disease: clinical lessons from case studies at Baylor University Medical Center. Proc Bayl Univ Med Cent 2006; 19(3): 195–208.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Phillips SF. Surreptitious laxative abuse: keep it in mind. Semin Gastrointest Dis 1999; 10(4):132–137.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Phillips S, Donaldson L, Geisler K, Pera A, Kochar R. Stool composition in factitial diarrhea: a 6-year experience with stool analysis. Ann Intern Med 1995; 123(2):97–100.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Duncan A, Cameron A, Stewart MJ, Russell RI. Diagnosis of the abuse of magnesium and stimulant laxatives. Ann Clin Biochem 1991; 28(Pt 6):568–573.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Keswani RN, Sauk J, Kane SV. Factitious diarrhea masquerading as refractory celiac disease. South Med J 2006; 99(3):293–295.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Pollok RC, Banks MR, Fairclough PD, Farthing MJ. Dilutional diarrhoea: under-diagnosed and over-investigated. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2000; 12(6): 609–611.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Duncan A, Forrest JA. Surreptitious abuse of magnesium laxatives as a cause of chronic diarrhoea. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2001; 13(5):599–601.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ewe K, Karbach U. Factitious diarrhoea. Clin Gastroenterol 1986; 15(3):723–740.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bytzer P, Stokholm M, Andersen I, Klitgaard NA, Schaffalitzky de Muckadell OB. Prevalence of surreptitious laxative abuse in patients with diarrhoea of uncertain origin: a cost benefit analysis of a screening procedure. Gut 1989; 30(10): 1379–1384.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Santangelo WC, Richey JE, Rivera L, Fordtran JS. Surreptitious ipecac administration simulating intestinal pseudo-obstruction. Ann Intern Med 1989; 110(12): 1031–1032.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Schiller LR, Santa Ana CA, Porter J, Fordtran JS. Validation of polyethylene glycol 3350 as a poorly absorbable marker for intestinal perfusion studies. Dig Dis Sci 1997; 42(1):1–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ryan CM, Yarmush ML, Tompkins RG. Separation and quantitation of polyethylene glycols 400 and 3350 from human urine by high-performance liquid chromatography. J Pharm Sci 1992; 81(4):350–352.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Shelton JH, Santa Ana CA, Thompson DR, Emmett M, Fordtran JS. Factitious diarrhea induced by stimulant laxatives: accuracy of diagnosis by a clinical reference laboratory using thin layer chromatography. Clin Chem 2007; 53(1):85–90.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Beyer J, Peters FT, Maurer HH. Screening procedure for detection of stimulant laxatives and/or their metabolites in human urine using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry after enzymatic cleavage of conjugates and extractive methylation. Ther Drug Monit 2005; 27(2):151–157.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kotha P, Rake MO, Willatt D. Liver damage induced by oxyphenisatin. Br Med J 1980; 281(6254):1530.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Zimmer KP, Marquardt T, Schmitt GM. More on factitious diarrhea. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2002; 35(4):584–585.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erica N. Roberson
    • 1
  • Arnold Wald
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology UWHC-H6/516MadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations