Transanal irrigation in myelomeningocele children: an alternative, safe and valid approach for neurogenic constipation

Emanuele Ausili, Benedetta Focarelli, Fabrizia Tabacco, D Murolo, M Sigismondi, Antonio Gasbarrini, Claudia Rendeli

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STUDY DESIGN: A total of 60 children with myelomeningocele referred to Spina Bifida Center of Rome (31 boys and 29 girls; aged 8-17 years) were treated with transanal irrigation for three months. OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether transanal irrigation is a valid and alternative approach for neurogenic constipation in children with myelomeningocele. METHODS: A questionnaire on bowel disturbances, quality of life and side effects was completed before the beginning and at the termination of the study. SETTING: Italy. RESULTS: About 60% (36/60) of patients reported relief from constipation and 75% (12/16) for fecal incontinence. Wheelchair-bound and walking patients showed same high improvement of bowel habit. Mean (s.d.) scores before and after the study were: neurogenic bowel dysfunction total score: 17.5 (5.2) versus 8.5 (4.3) (P<0.001); digital stimulation of anorectum: 4.2 (2.8) versus 1.3 (2.5) (P<0.01); frequency of fecal incontinence: 5.5 (1.2) versus 1.3 (1.7) (P<0.01) and degree of general satisfaction: 3.0 (2.4) versus 7.7 (1.5) (P<0.001).We observed a reduction of urinary tract infections during the course of treatment: 14 total urinary tract infections (9 caused by Escherichia coli) before versus 6 (3) during treatment (P<0.01). CONCLUSION: Transanal irrigation in children with myelomeningocele is an alternative and relatively safe approach for managing neurogenic constipation; in fact, it improves bowel disturbances, quality of life and seems to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)560-565
Number of pages6
JournalSpinal Cord
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Adolescent
  • Anal Canal
  • Child
  • Constipation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Meningomyelocele
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Therapeutic Irrigation
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic
  • Urodynamics


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