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Logo of archdischArchives of Disease in ChildhoodVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
Arch Dis Child. 2004 August; 89(8): 723–727.
PMCID: PMC1720034

Prognosis of constipation: clinical factors and colonic transit time


Background: Measurement of colonic transit time (CTT) is sometimes used in the evaluation of patients with chronic constipation.

Aim: To investigate the relation between symptoms and CTT, and to assess the importance of symptoms and CTT in predicting outcome.

Methods: Between 1995 and 2000, 169 consecutive patients (median age 8.4 years, 65% boys) fulfilling the criteria for constipation were enrolled. During the intervention and follow up period, all kept a diary to record symptoms. CTT was measured at entry to the study.

Results: At entry, defecation frequency was lower in girls than in boys, while the frequency of encopresis episodes was higher in boys. CTT values were significantly higher in those with a low defecation frequency ([less-than-or-eq, slant]1/week) and a high frequency of encopresis ([gt-or-equal, slanted]2/day). However, 50% had CTT values within the normal range. Successful outcome occurred more often in those with a rectal impaction. CTT results <100 hours were not predictive of outcome. However, those with CTT >100 hours were less likely to have had a successful outcome.

Conclusion: The presence of a rectal impaction at presentation is associated with a better outcome at one year. A CTT >100 hours is associated with a poor outcome at one year.

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