Symptoms and physiology in severe chronic constipation.Am J Gastroenterol 1999; 94(1):131-8AJ
Symptoms of constipation have been attributed to slow colon transit, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD). Our aim was to determine the existence of symptom-based constipation subgroups and whether these correspond to differences in colonic transit and anorectal sensorimotor function.
Constipated patients (n = 108) completed questionnaires, and underwent colon transit studies, anorectal manometry, and rectal sensory testing. Factor analysis of symptoms was performed. Factor-based symptom scores were correlated with physiological findings.
Three symptom factors were identified as compatible with slow colonic transit, IBS, and PFD. There was a significant correlation between the symptoms of slow transit and total and rectosigmoid colon transit. There were also significant correlations between both the IBS symptom score and the number of Manning criteria with measures of rectal hypersensitivity typical of IBS. Neither PFD symptom scores nor symptoms of straining correlated with any electromyographic or manometric measure of anal defecatory function or with rectosigmoid colon transit. Based on physiological testing patients were classified as slow transit, visceral hypersensitivity (typical of IBS), PFD, or no abnormalities found. As expected, slow-transit patients had symptoms of infrequent stools and patients with visceral hypersensitivity had an increased number of Manning criteria for IBS. Patients with PFD physiology and those with no detectable abnormalities had no specific symptoms.
Three symptom-based subgroups for constipation were confirmed: slow transit, IBS, and PFD. Slow transit and IBS symptoms correlated with expected physiology. Conversely, PFD symptoms and physiology did not correlate.