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Acta Paediatr. 2006 Mar;95(3):369-74.

Tap-water enema for children with myelomeningocele and neurogenic bowel dysfunction.

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Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Division of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University Hospital, Linköping, Sweden.



To evaluate the outcome of transrectal irrigation (TRI) using clean tap water without salt in children with myelomeningocele and neurogenic bowel problems.


40 children (21 boys and 19 girls; aged 10 mo to 11 y) with myelomeningocele and neurogenic bowel dysfunction were treated with TRI given by a stoma cone irrigation set daily or every second day. A questionnaire on the effects on faecal incontinence, constipation and self-management was completed by the parents, 4 mo-8 y (median 1.5 y) after start. Effects on rectal volume, anal sphincter pressure and plasma sodium were evaluated before and after the start of irrigation.


At follow-up, 35 children remained on TRI, four had received appendicostomy, while one defecated normally. For all children but five (35/40; 85%) the procedure worked satisfactorily, but a majority found the procedure very time consuming and only one child was able to perform it independently. All children were free of constipation; most (35/40) were also anal continent. Rectal volume and anal sphincter pressure improved, while plasma sodium values remained within the normal range.


Transrectal irrigation with tap water is a safe method to resolve constipation and faecal incontinence in children with myelomeningocele and neurogenic bowel dysfunction, but it does not help children to independence at the toilet.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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