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Papers of the Week

2020 Jan

Pediatr Surg Int



‘Rapid transit’ constipation in children: a possible genesis for irritable bowel syndrome.


Hutson JM, Hynes MC, Kearsey I, Yik YI, Veysey DM, Tudball CF, Cain TM, King SK, Southwell BR
Pediatr Surg Int. 2020 Jan; 36(1):11-19.
PMID: 31673760.


Children with chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC) often end up at the surgeon when medical treatments have failed. This opinion piece discusses a recently described pattern of CIC called 'Rapid transit constipation (RTC)' first identified in 2011 as part of surgical workup. RTC was identified using a nuclear medicine gastrointestinal transit study (NMGIT or nuclear transit study) to determine the site of slowing within the bowel and to inform surgical treatment. Unexpectedly, we found that RTC occured in 29% of 1000 transit studies in a retrospective audit. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) occurs in 7-21% of the population, with a higher prevalence in young children and with constipation type dominating in the young. While 60% improve with time, 40% continue with symptoms. First-line therapy for IBS in adults is a diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols which reduces symptoms in > 70% of patients. In children with functional gastrointestinal disorders, fructose intolerance occurs in 35-55%. Reducing fructose produced significant improvement in 77-82% of intolerant patients. In children with RTC and a positive breath test upon fructose challenge, we found that exclusion of fructose significantly improved constipation, abdominal pain, stool consistency and decreased laxative use. We hypothesise that positive breath tests and improvement of pain and bowel frequency with sugar exclusion diets in RTC suggest these children have IBS-C. These observations raise the possibility that many children with CIC could be treated by reducing fructose early in their diet and this might prevent the development of IBS in later life.