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Pediatr Surg Int. 2009 Jun;25(6):473-8. doi: 10.1007/s00383-009-2372-4. Epub 2009 May 16.

Standard medical therapies do not alter colonic transit time in children with treatment-resistant slow-transit constipation.

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  • 1Surgical Research Group, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, 3052, Australia.



Slow transit constipation (STC) is a form of chronic constipation characterised by prolonged passage of faecal matter through the colon. It is diagnosed by demonstrating delayed colonic transit on gastrointestinal transit studies. Traditionally, radio-opaque marker studies are performed. Recently, radioisotope nuclear transit studies (NTS) have been used in our centre to assess gastrointestinal transit time. This study aimed to evaluate if there are changes in colonic transit in STC children resistant to standard medical treatment over a prolonged period.


Children with STC resistant to standard medical therapy for > or =2 years who had undergone two separate NTS to assess their colonic transit (where the first study had identified slow colonic transit without anorectal retention) were identified after ethical approval. The geometric centre (GC) of radioisotope activity at 6, 24, 30 and 48 h was compared in the two transit studies to determine if changes occurred.


Seven children (4 males) with proven STC resistant to standard medical therapy and two transit studies performed at different times were identified. Mean age was 7.0 years (5.4-10.8 years) at first study, and 11.4 years (9.7-14.2 years) at second study, with a mean of 4.4 years (1-8.5 years) between studies. There was no significant difference in colonic transit at any timepoint in the two tests (paired t test).


We conclude that nuclear transit studies are reproducible in assessing slow colonic transit in children with treatment-resistant STC and demonstrate that conventional medical treatment over many years has no effect on underlying colonic motility.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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