Childhood constipation: evaluation and management

Dinesh S Pashankar
Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery 2005, 18 (2): 120-7
Constipation is a common problem in children. It is also a long-term problem persisting for many months to years in children. Approximately 95% of childhood constipation is functional in nature without any obvious cause. Evaluation of a child with constipation requires a thorough history and physical examination. Hirschsprung's disease is an important cause of constipation arising in infancy and requires a thorough diagnostic evaluation and surgical treatment. Treatment of functional constipation in children requires a well-designed plan and a team approach involving the child, parents, and a health care provider. Treatment involves education of the family about constipation and encopresis, fecal disimpaction, and long-term maintenance therapy of laxatives and behavioral modification. Laxatives such as magnesium hydroxide, lactulose, and mineral oil have been used in children for a long time. A new laxative, polyethylene glycol 3350, has been used successfully in children with constipation and encopresis. Several novel therapeutic interventions have been tried for children presenting with intractable constipation, refractory to conventional treatment.

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