Anorectal dysfunction in constipated women with anorexia nervosa

Mayo Clin Proc. 2000 Oct;75(10):1015-9. doi: 10.4065/75.10.1015.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anal Canal / physiopathology*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / complications*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / physiopathology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy
  • Catheterization / instrumentation
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Chronic Disease
  • Colon / physiopathology
  • Constipation / complications
  • Constipation / physiopathology*
  • Defecation / physiology
  • Female
  • Food
  • Gastrointestinal Transit / physiology
  • Humans
  • Manometry / instrumentation
  • Pelvic Floor / physiopathology
  • Rectum / physiopathology*
  • Sensation / physiology
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Transducers, Pressure