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J Pediatr Surg. 2009 Dec;44(12):2388-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2009.07.063.

Daily transabdominal electrical stimulation at home increased defecation in children with slow-transit constipation: a pilot study.

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School of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 3050, Australia.



Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TES) (3 sessions/wk) over the abdomen stimulated bowel functions in a randomized controlled trial. This pilot study assessed whether daily TES at home with a safe, portable machine would be possible and more efficacious than trial results.


Eleven patients (6 male/5 female; mean age, 14 years; range, 12-18 years) with slow-transit constipation who relapsed or responded poorly in the trial were recruited (11 +/- 5 months later). An EPM-IF-4160 (Fuji Dynamics, Hong Kong) portable machine (sine waveform, 4 kHz carrier frequency, 80-160 Hz beat frequency, intensity <33 mA) delivering interferential current (2 electrodes over epigastrium + 2 over kidneys) was applied 1 hour daily at home. Continence diaries were kept for 1 month before and 2 months during treatment.


All children completed more than 1 month of treatment after baseline recording. Defecation increased in 9 of 11 children, and soiling decreased in 4 of 11 children. There was a significant increase in total episodes of defecation per week (mean +/- SD, 2.5 +/- 2.1 vs 6.7 +/- 4.4; P = .008) and a nonsignificant decrease in soiling (3.8 +/- 1.6 vs 1.1 +/- 0.5 episodes/wk, P = .1). Daily stimulation does not affect abdominal pain. No adverse events occurred.


Daily TES at home is safe and significantly improved bowel function in children who did not respond to 3 times per week of TES. Home TES may be a novel treatment of intractable slow transit constipation, avoiding hospital visits.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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