Objective: To evaluate anorectal and colonic function in a group of patients with anorexia nervosa complaining of chronic constipation.
Patients and methods: Twelve women (age range, 19-29 years) meeting the criteria for anorexia nervosa and complaining of chronic constipation were recruited for the study. A group of 12 healthy women served as controls. Colonic transit time was measured by a radiopaque marker technique. Anorectal manometry and a test of rectal sensation were carried out with use of standard techniques to measure pelvic floor dysfunction. A subgroup of 8 patients was retested after an adequate refeeding program was completed.
Results: Eight (66.7%) of 12 patients with anorexia nervosa had slow colonic transit times, while 5 (41.7%) had pelvic floor dysfunction. Colonic transit time normalized in the 8 patients who completed the 4-week refeeding program. However, pelvic floor dysfunction did not normalize in these patients.
Conclusions: Patients with anorexia nervosa who complain of constipation have anorectal motor abnormalities. Delayed colonic transit time is probably due to abnormal eating behavior.