A constipation scoring system to simplify evaluation and management of constipated patients

Dis Colon Rectum. 1996 Jun;39(6):681-5. doi: 10.1007/BF02056950.


Purpose: Constipation is a common complaint; however, clinical presentation varies with each individual. The aim of this study was to assess a standard scoring system for evaluation of constipated patients.

Materials and methods: All consecutive patients with idiopathic constipation who were referred for anorectal physiologic testing were assessed. A subjective constipation score was calculated based on a detailed questionnaire that included over 100 constipation-related symptoms. Based on the questionnaire, scores ranged from 0 to 30, with 0 indicating normal and 30 indicating severe constipation. The constipation score was then compared with the objective findings of the physiology tests, which include colonic transit time (CTT), anal manometry (AM), cinedefecography (CD), and electromyography (EMG). Colonic inertia was defined as diffuse marker delay on CTT without evidence of paradoxical contraction on AM, CD, or EMG. Pelvic outlet obstruction was defined as paradoxical puborectalis contraction, rectal prolapse or rectoanal intussusception, rectocele, or sigmoidocele.

Results: A total of 232 patients (185 females and 47 males) of a mean age of 64.9 (range, 14-92) years were evaluated. All patients had a score of more than 15; on evaluation of the significance of different symptoms in the constipation score with the Pearson's linear correlation test, 8 of 18 factors were identified as significant (P < 0.05). These factors included frequency of bowel movements, painful evacuation, incomplete evacuation, abdominal pain, length of time per attempt, assistance for evacuation, unsuccessful attempts for evacuation per 24 hours, and duration of constipation. All 232 patients had objective obstruction attributable to one or more of the following causes: paradoxical puborectalis contraction (81), significant rectocele or sigmoidocele (48), rectoanal intussusception (64), and rectal prolapse (9).

Conclusion: The proposed constipation scoring system correlated well with objective physiologic findings in constipated patients to allow uniformity in assessment of the severity of constipation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Constipation / classification*
  • Constipation / diagnosis
  • Constipation / etiology
  • Constipation / physiopathology
  • Constipation / psychology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Transit
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors