Dermatoglyphic (fingerprint) evidence for a congenital syndrome of early onset constipation and abdominal pain

Gastroenterology. 1986 Aug;91(2):428-32. doi: 10.1016/0016-5085(86)90578-0.


Chronic idiopathic constipation and abdominal pain are the most common gastrointestinal symptoms but their cause is rarely determined; therefore, they usually are called functional. To determine if congenital factors play a role in these disorders, we examined dermatoglyphic (fingerprint) patterns, a congenital marker, in 155 consecutive patients with gastrointestinal complaints. Sixty-four percent of patients with constipation and abdominal pain before age 10 yr had one or more digital arches, compared with 10% of patients without constipation and abdominal pain (p less than 0.001). Seventy percent of constipated patients with arches had the onset of symptoms before age 10 yr compared with 23% of constipated patients without arches (p less than 0.001) and 14% of patients with symptoms other than constipation (p less than 0.001). Compared with an age- and sex-matched sample of patients without arches, patients with arches had a higher prevalence of constipation and abdominal pain before age 10 (p = 0.003), were more likely (p less than 0.001) to have chronic intestinal pseudoobstruction (an organic disorder), and were less likely (p = 0.013) to have irritable bowel syndrome (a functional disorder). Identification of a congenital marker, digital arches, associated with early onset constipation and abdominal pain may help to differentiate a congenital organic syndrome from functional disorders such as the irritable bowel syndrome.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / diagnosis
  • Constipation / congenital*
  • Constipation / diagnosis
  • Crohn Disease / diagnosis
  • Dermatoglyphics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / congenital*
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Syndrome