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Arch Surg. 2003 Dec;138(12):1302-4.

Colonic propulsive impairment in intractable slow-transit constipation.

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  • 1Gastroenterolgy and Hepatology Section, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Perugia Medical School, Perugia, Italy.



Intractable constipation, especially of the slow-transit subtype, may represent several pathophysiologic entities with a common final symptomatic appearance. An overall impairment of colonic propulsive activity may represent a major disease mechanism.


Case series.


Tertiary university hospital.


Twenty-nine severely constipated patients with clinical and homogeneous features of slow-transit constipation that were unresponsive to conventional medical measures and 16 age-matched healthy volunteers.


Twenty-four-hour manometric recordings obtained in patients and controls to assess high- and low-amplitude colonic propulsive activity.


Compared with controls, patients showed heavily reduced high-amplitude propagated activity (average, <1 event per subject per day). No differences were found in low-amplitude propagated activity.


Patients with severe constipation that is refractory to medical treatment may display an important reduction of colonic forceful propulsive activity. This may justify a surgical approach, which may offer the best results in such patients. It is, however, important to obtain thorough physiologic documentation before such a drastic approach is considered. The residual low-amplitude propulsive activity might represent a partially compensatory mechanism in these patients. Studies in more homogeneous groups of such patients are needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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