Surgery for chronic idiopathic constipation: pediatric and adult patients - a systematic review

Kerry A. Swanson, Hannah M. Phelps, Will Chapman, Sean C. Glasgow, Radhika K. Smith, Shannon Joerger, Elizabeth C. Utterson, Baddr A. Shakhsheer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC) is a substantial problem in pediatric and adult patients with similar symptoms and workup; however, surgical management of these populations differs. We systematically reviewed the trends and outcomes in the surgical management of CIC in pediatric and adult populations. METHODS: A literature search was performed using Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and between January 1, 1995 and June 26, 2020. Clinical trials and retrospective and prospective studies of patients of any age with a diagnosis of CIC with data of at least 1 outcome of interest were selected. The interventions included surgical resection for constipation or antegrade continence enema (ACE) procedures. The outcome measures included bowel movement frequency, abdominal pain, laxative use, satisfaction, complications, and reinterventions. RESULTS: Adult patients were most likely to undergo resection (94%), whereas pediatric patients were more likely to undergo ACE procedures (96%) as their primary surgery. Both ACE procedures and resections were noted to improve symptoms of CIC; however, ACE procedures were associated with higher complication and reintervention rates. CONCLUSION: Surgical management of CIC in pediatric and adult patients differs with pediatric patients receiving ACE procedures and adults undergoing resections. The evaluation of resections and long-term ACE data in pediatric patients should be performed to inform patients and physicians whether an ACE is an appropriate procedure despite high complication and reintervention rates or whether resections should be considered as an initial approach for CIC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-178
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024


  • Colonic inertia
  • Constipation
  • Idiopathic constipation


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