Constipation and other chronic gastrointestinal problems in spinal cord injury patients.
De Looze D. Van Laere M. De Muynck M. Beke R. Elewaut A.
Ghent University Hospital, Belgium.
From a questionnaire sent to 90 spinal cord injury (SCI) patients it is concluded that 58% of patients with a complete SCI above L2 suffer from constipation, defined as two or fewer bowel movements per week, or the use of aids such as laxatives, manual evacuation or enemas. Tetraplegic patients had the highest prevalence of constipation, while patients with low paraplegia were less prone to constipation. The use of anticholinergic drugs was found to predispose to constipation. Preserved rectal sensation did not influence the presence of constipation. Faecal incontinence was rare. Regular abdominal pain was present in one third of SCI patients and might be caused by an irritable bowel syndrome in 62% of these.