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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Feb 1;25(3):323-32. Epub 2007 Jan 8.

Change over time of bowel habit in irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective, observational, 1-year follow-up study (RITMO study).

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Digestive Medicine Department, Hospital Universitari La Fe, Valencia, Spain.



Evolution of bowel habit in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not well known.


To evaluate the change over time of bowel habit in IBS patients followed-up during 1 year.


Five hundred and seventeen patients with IBS were prospectively included in an observational study with five evaluations over a 1-year period. Symptoms were recorded daily in diary cards during four 4-week periods along the study. Bristol Stool Scale (BSS) was used to define bowel habit.


Four-hundred patients completed the study. Rome II showed low-moderate agreement (42%) with BSS to define bowel habit. Frequency of constipation and diarrhoea showed little changes throughout the study. Over 50% of the patients had the same bowel habit when each diary was compared with the next one. A third of patients maintained the same habit throughout the study. Most changes occurred from/to mixed or unsubtyped IBS. Only 14% of cases changed from constipation to diarrhoea or vice versa. This change was associated to female gender (OR: 2.65).


The frequency of constipation and diarrhoea remains relatively stable over time. Changes in IBS subtypes are common, but changes between constipation and diarrhoea are rare. Alternating IBS is more frequent in women.

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