Emergency department burden of constipation in the United States from 2006 to 2011

Am J Gastroenterol. 2015 Apr;110(4):572-9. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2015.64. Epub 2015 Mar 24.


Objectives: Although constipation is typically managed in an outpatient setting, there is an increasing trend in the frequency of constipation-related hospital visits. The aim of this study was to analyze trends related to chronic constipation (CC) in the United States with respect to emergency department (ED) visits, patient and hospital characteristics, and associated costs.

Methods: Data from 2006 to 2011, in which constipation (The International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) diagnosis codes 564.00-564.09) was the primary discharge diagnosis, were obtained from the National Emergency Department Sample (NEDS).

Results: Between 2006 and 2011, the frequency of constipation-related ED visits increased by 41.5%, from 497,034 visits to 703,391 visits, whereas the mean cost per patient rose by 56.4%, from $1,474 in 2006 to $2,306 in 2011. The aggregate national cost of constipation-related ED visits increased by 121.4%, from $732,886,977 in 2006 to $1,622,624,341 in 2011. All cost data were adjusted for inflation and reported in 2014 dollars. Infants (<1 year old) had the highest rate of constipation-related ED visits in both 2006 and 2011. The late elders (85+ years) had the second highest constipation-related ED visit rate in 2006; however, the 1- to 17-year-old age group experienced a 50.7% increase in constipation-related ED visit rate from 2006 to 2011 and had the second highest constipation-related ED visit rate in 2011.

Conclusions: The frequency of and the associated costs of ED visits for constipation are significant and have increased notably from 2006 to 2011.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Constipation / diagnosis
  • Constipation / economics*
  • Constipation / epidemiology*
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / economics*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hospital Costs*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • International Classification of Diseases
  • Male
  • Medicare
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge
  • United States / epidemiology