Fecal continence disparities in patients with idiopathic constipation treated at referral institutions for pediatric colorectal surgery.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2022.09.024


Purpose: Fecal continence is a concern for many patients with idiopathic constipation and can significantly impact quality of life. It is unknown whether racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities are seen in fecal continence within the idiopathic constipation population. We aimed to evaluate fecal continence and associated demographic characteristics in children with idiopathic constipation referred for surgical evaluation.

Methods: A multicenter retrospective study of children with idiopathic constipation was performed at sites participating in the Pediatric Colorectal and Pelvic Learning Consortium (PCPLC). All patients > 3y of age with idiopathic constipation diagnosis were included. The primary outcome was fecal continence, categorized as complete (no accidents ever), daytime (no accidents during the day), partial (occasional incontinence day/night), and none (incontinent). We evaluated for associations between fecal continence and race, sex, age, insurance status, and other patient-level factors, employing Kruskal-Wallis and trend tests.

Results: 458 patients with idiopathic constipation from 12 sites were included. The median age of diagnosis was 4.1 years. Only 25% of patients referred for surgical evaluation were completely continent. Age at the visit was significantly associated with fecal continence level (p = 0.002). In addition, patients with public and mixed public and private insurance had lower levels of continence (p < 0.001). Patients with developmental delay were also more likely to have lower continence levels (p = 0.009) while diagnoses such as anxiety, ADD/ADHD, autism, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder were not associated. Approximately 30% of patients had an ACE operation (antegrade continence enema) at a median age of 9.2 years at operation. Black patients were significantly less likely to undergo ACE operation (p = 0.016) when compared to white patients.

Conclusion: We observed data that suggest differences in fecal incontinence rates based on payor status. Further investigation is needed to characterize these potential areas of disparate care.

Level of evidence: Level III.

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Journal of pediatric surgery





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MeSH Keywords

Humans; Child; Child, Preschool; Colorectal Surgery; Retrospective Studies; Quality of Life; Defecation; Constipation; Fecal Incontinence; Enema; Treatment Outcome


Disparities; Fecal continence; Functional constipation; Idiopathic constipation

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