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Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition:
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000000402
Original Articles: Gastroenterology

Pediatric Constipation in the Emergency Department: Evaluation, Treatment, and Outcomes

Freedman, Stephen B.*; Thull-Freedman, Jennifer; Rumantir, Maggie; Eltorki, Mohamed; Schuh, Suzanne

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Objectives: Limited knowledge exists surrounding the pharmacologic management of pediatric constipation in the emergency department (ED) setting and the success of interventions. Our primary objective was to determine whether enema administration is associated with 7-day ED revisits for persistent symptoms. Secondary objectives focused on assessing other predictors of ED revisits.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of children <18 years old, diagnosed as having constipation (International Classification of Diseases-10 codes F98.1 nonorganic encopresis, K59.0 constipation) in a pediatric ED in Toronto, Canada, between November 2008 and October 2010.

Results: A total of 3592 visits were included; 6% (n = 225) were associated with a revisit. Children with revisits more frequently had vomiting (28% vs 17%, P = 0.001), more pain (5.7 ± 3.6 vs 4.6–3.6 of 10, P = 0.01), and underwent more blood tests (19% 05, 11%, 95% confidence interval [CI] of the difference 3%–14%] and diagnostic imaging (62% vs 47%, 95% CI of the difference 9%–22%). Children administered an enema were 1.54 times more likely to revisit the ED than those who did not receive an enema (8.6% vs 5.5%, 95% CI of the difference 1.1%–5.2%, P = 0.001). Type of enema administered varied by age (P < 0.001). Regression analysis identified the following independent predictors of revisits: diagnostic imaging (odds ratio [OR] 1.54, 95% CI 1.15–2.06), vomiting (OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.07–1.98), enema administration (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.05–1.88), and significant medical history (OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.04–1.53).

Conclusions: Enema administration and diagnostic imaging are associated with revisits in children diagnosed with constipation. Their role in the ED management of pediatric constipation requires further evaluation.

© 2014 by European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology,


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