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J Adolesc Health. 2004 Jun;34(6):517-22.

Chronic functional constipation in adolescents: clinical findings and motility studies.

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Gastroenterology Post Graduate Program, School of Medicine, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul and the Gastroenterology Service, Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre (HCPA), Ramiro Barcelos 910/1003 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.



To evaluate the clinical findings and colonic transit time in adolescents with chronic functional constipation.


Forty-eight consecutive adolescents with chronic functional constipation referred to the Gastroenterology Service at the Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, Brazil were studied. Clinical parameters were assessed using a questionnaire. Total and segmental colonic transit time were measured with radiopaque markers.


Mean age at first visit was 14 +/- 2 years, and age at onset of constipation was 6 +/- 4 years; 90% of patients depended on laxatives, and 86% on intermittent enemas; 76% had a family history of constipation. There was no statistical difference in the amount of daily fiber ingested by patients and controls. Measurements of colonic transit time revealed that 60% of patients had slow transit constipation, 13% had pelvic floor dysfunction, 10% had slow transit constipation associated with pelvic floor dysfunction, and 17% had a normal colonic transit time. Decreased frequency of evacuation and palpable abdominal fecal mass were significantly associated with slow transit constipation.


Functional constipation in adolescence consists of a heterogeneous group of colonic functional disorders. The identification of these different functional disorders in adolescents will guide specific treatment, which may prevent the progression of this symptom into adult life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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