Use of erythromycin for the treatment of severe chronic constipation in children

Braz J Med Biol Res. 2003 Oct;36(10):1391-6. doi: 10.1590/s0100-879x2003001000016. Epub 2003 Sep 16.

Abstract

The efficacy of erythromycin was assessed in the treatment of 14 children aged 4 to 13 years with refractory chronic constipation, and presenting megarectum and fecal impaction. A double-blind, placebo- controlled, crossover study was conducted at the Pediatric Gastroenterology Outpatient Clinic of the University Hospital. The patients were randomized to receive placebo for 4 weeks followed by erythromycin estolate, 20 mg kg-1 day-1, divided into four oral doses for another 4 weeks, or vice versa. Patient outcome was assessed according to a clinical score from 12 (most severe clinical condition) to 0 (complete recovery). At enrollment in the study and on the occasion of follow-up medical visits at two-week intervals, patient score and laxative requirements were recorded. During the first 30 days, the mean SD clinical score for the erythromycin group (N = 6) decreased from 8.2+/-2.3 to 2.2+/-1.0 while the score for the placebo group (N = 8) decreased from 7.8+/-2.1 to 2.9+/-2.8. During the second crossover phase, the score for patients on erythromycin ranged from 2.9+/-2.8 to 2.4+/-2.1 and the score for the patients on placebo worsened from 2.2+/-1.0 to 4.3+/-2.3. There was a significant improvement in score when patients were on erythromycin (P < 0.01). Mean laxative requirement was lower when patients ingested erythromycin (P < 0.05). No erythromycin-related side effects occurred. Erythromycin was useful in this group of severely constipated children. A larger trial is needed to fully ascertain the prokinetic efficacy of this drug as an adjunct in the treatment of severe constipation in children.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Constipation / drug therapy*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Erythromycin Estolate / therapeutic use*
  • Fecal Impaction / drug therapy*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Severity of Illness Index

Substances

  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Erythromycin Estolate