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Constipation: At the Doctor

It is important to come to your appointment prepared, with notes on your child’s symptoms as well as his recent diet and medications. It might even be helpful to keep a “poop chart” for a few weeks beforehand. You’ll probably be asked questions like:

  • When did your child beginning experiencing symptoms?
  • Does anything seem to improve or worsen his symptoms?
  • Have his symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • Is there a family history of digestive problems?
  • Does your child strain with bowel movements? Have you seen blood?
  • Has there been any change in your child’s medications or dosages?

The physical exam will likely include placing a gloved finger into your child’s anus to check for abnormalities and the presence of impacted stool. Rarely more extensive testing might be conducted for severe cases, including:

  • Colonoscopy
  • Barium enema X-ray
  • Rectal biopsy (to determine if normal nerve cells are present)
  • Anorectal manometry or motility test, where a catheter is placed in the rectum to measure the coordination of the muscles your child uses to pass stool
  • Colonic manometry, which measures the contractions of large intestine and is done during a colonoscopy
  • Transit study or marker study, in which your child will swallow a capsule containing markers that show up on X-rays taken over several days to see how they move through your child’s body

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