Misoprostol in the treatment of chronic refractory constipation: results of a long-term open label trial.Aliment Pharmacol Ther 1997; 11(6):1059-66AP
Misoprostol is known to be effective in stimulating intestinal transit both in healthy individuals and in patients with chronic constipation when evaluated in short-term trials. The aim of this study was to determine the utility of misoprostol in the long-term management of patients with chronic refractory constipation.
Eighteen patients were offered misoprostol (600-2400 microg/day) as adjunctive therapy in an open-ended, non-blinded trial. All patients were encouraged to continue the drug for a minimum of 4 weeks, after which time the effect on bowel movement patterns was evaluated and continued use of misoprostol was offered to those patients who demonstrated a clinical benefit.
Six patients withdrew prior to 4 weeks because of side-effects. In the 12 patients who continued the treatment and were evaluated at 4 weeks, the mean interval between bowel movement frequency had decreased from a baseline of 11.25 to 4.8 days (P = 0.0004). Eight patients continued the long-term treatment, with sustained response seen in six. In a subset of patients (n = 4) the effect of single-dose misoprostol (400 microg) was evaluated compared to healthy controls (n = 5) on post-prandial segmental colonic motility. Misoprostol augmented the colonic motility response to a meal throughout the colon, and this was significantly greater in the left versus right colonic segments (P < 0.05).
Misoprostol can be effective as part of the long-term medical treatment of patients with chronic refractory constipation, but side-effects are observed at higher doses and can be a limiting factor. Part of misoprostol's action may be mediated through the augmentation of colonic motility, particularly of the left colon.