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J Adolesc Health Care. 1986 Jul;7(4):255-8.

Constipation presenting as respiratory distress.


This case report describes a 14-year-old boy presenting with a barrel-chested appearance and a complaint of shortness of breath on exertion. The patient had a long history of severe constipation with overflow incontinence. Physical examination suggested limited diaphragmatic excursion. Initial pulmonary function studies showed a restrictive pattern. Catharsis resulted in an 11-lb weight loss and normalization of pulmonary function. We speculate that the extrinsic upward pressure imposed on the diaphragm by a full bowel resulted in increased anteroposterior diameter, decreased lung height, and a reversible restrictive pattern on pulmonary function studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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