Chronic constipation: a critical review

Dig Liver Dis. 2013 Nov;45(11):886-93. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2013.03.016. Epub 2013 Apr 30.


Chronic constipation is a very common symptom that is rarely associated with life-threatening diseases, but has a substantial impact on patient quality of life and consumption of healthcare resources. Despite the large number of affected patients and the social relevance of the condition, no cost-effectiveness analysis has been made of any diagnostic or therapeutic algorithm, and there are few data comparing different diagnostic and therapeutic approaches in the long term. In this scenario, increasing emphasis has been placed on demonstrating that a number of older and new therapeutic options are effective in treating chronic constipation in well-performed randomised controlled trials, but there is still debate as to when these therapeutic options should be included in diagnostic and therapeutic algorithms. The aim of this review is to perform a critical evaluation of the current diagnostic and therapeutic options available for adult patients with chronic constipation in order to identify a rational patient approach; furthermore we attempt to clarify some of the more controversial points to aid clinicians in managing this symptom in a more efficacious and cost-effective manner.

Keywords: Clinical review; Constipation; Evidence-based medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Constipation / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods*
  • Humans