Purpose: Slow transit constipation (STC) is a form of chronic constipation, with delayed colonic passage of stool. Possible etiologies include reduced neurotransmitter levels, reduced interstitial cells of Cajal density, or a disorder of connective tissue (CT) synthesis. A common CT disorder is generalized joint hypermobility (GJH). This study aimed to investigate whether there was a greater prevalence of GJH among patients with STC than controls.
Methods: Children (aged 7-17) diagnosed with STC by radio/nuclear transit study were recruited from outpatient clinics. Controls (no history of constipation) were recruited from outpatient clinics and a scout jamboree. Hypermobility was assessed using the Beighton score (4 or more = hypermobile). This project received ethical approval by the human research ethics committee.
Results: Thirty-nine STC subjects and 41 controls were measured. Of 39 STC subjects, 15 (38%) were hypermobile, compared to 8 (20%) of 41 controls (P = .06). Analyzed by gender, 10 (38%) of 26 STC males and 1 (4%) of 23 control males were hypermobile (P < .01).
Conclusions: These results show that GJH is higher in STC children, particularly males, suggesting that a disorder of CT synthesis plays a role in the etiology of STC. Further research is required to ascertain the nature of any relationship and how this knowledge may aid our understanding and treatment of STC.