Chronic constipation is an extremely common problem in children. Many authors have advocated using anorectal manometric examination during evaluation of chronic childhood constipation and encopresis as a means of developing individualized modes of treatment.
Purpose: This study was designed to prospectively examine frequency and severity of symptoms of childhood constipation and encopresis and associate these symptoms with anorectal manometric findings.
Methods: Forty-four children with chronic constipation participated in the study. Before performing anorectal manometry, bowel-related symptoms were collected for two consecutive weeks with a computerized voice mail system. Anorectal manometry was performed using a triple lumen catheter attached to a hydraulic manometry infusion system.
Results: Frequency of voluntary bowel movements did not correlate with any manometric parameters. Frequency of fecal soiling, age at onset of symptoms, and duration of symptoms were all highly correlated with degree of sphincter spasm during attempted defecation; however, none of these variables correlated with any other manometric parameter. Amount of pain associated with bowel movements correlated with frequency of soiling and was inversely correlated with maximum squeeze pressure but was not correlated with any other manometric parameter.
Conclusions: In children with chronic constipation and encopresis, sphincter spasm demonstrated with anorectal manometry is highly correlated with frequency of fecal soiling, age at onset, and duration of symptoms; however, none of the other commonly measured manometric parameters appear to correlate with symptoms of chronic childhood constipation and encopresis.