Occult constipation: A common cause of recurrent abdominal pain in childhood

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Abstract

Background: An estimated 10% of all children are subject to recurrent attacks of abdominal pain of unknown origin. When no organic cause is found, the working diagnosis is usually functional abdominal pain. Objectives: To investigate the possible causative role of occult constipation. Methods: We defined occult constipation as the absence of complaints of constipation on initial medical history or of symptoms to indicate the presence of constipation. The diagnosis was made by rectal examination and/or plain abdominal X-ray. Results: Occult constipation was found to be the cause of RAP in 42.6% of children examined. Treatment consisted of paraffin oil and phosphate enema. In 82.84% of cases the abdominal pain subsided considerably or disappeared within 2 weeks to 3 months of treatment. On telephone interview of the parents at 1-1.5 years after discharge, 96.5% reported that both the abdominal pain and constipation had subsided or disappeared. Conclusions: Occult constipation can be easily identified and treated in a large number of children with RAP who were diagnosed as having functional abdominal pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-680
Number of pages4
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Volume6
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004

Keywords

  • Abdominal X-ray
  • Occult constipation
  • Overt constipation
  • Recurrent abdominal pain

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