Background & Aims: There is controversy over the utility of symptoms, examination, and tests for diagnosis of rectal evacuation disorders (REDs) or slow-transit constipation (STC). We aimed to ascertain the pooled prevalence, sensitivity, specificity, and likelihood ratios for clinical parameters to determine pretest and post-test probabilities of diagnoses of RED and STC without RED. Methods: We searched the MEDLINE and PUBMED databases since 1999 for studies that used binary data to calculate sensitivity, specificity, and likelihood ratios to determine the diagnostic utility of history, symptoms, and tests for RED and STC. RED and STC were defined based on confirmation by at least 1 objective anorectal test or colonic transit test. Controls had normal test results based on the specific protocol in each study. Results: We reviewed 100 articles; 63 studies of RED and 61 studies of STC met the inclusion criteria. Among 3364 patients with chronic constipation, objective tests demonstrated RED alone, 27.2%; normal transit constipation alone, 37.2%; STC alone, 19.0%; and RED with STC, 16.6%. To diagnose RED, discriminant features were urinary symptoms (specificity, 100%; likelihood ratio, above 10; 58 patients), less than 2 findings of dyssynergia in a digital rectal exam (sensitivity, 83.2%; negative likelihood ratio, 0.2; 462 patients) and rectoanal pressure gradient below –40 mm Hg with high anal pressure during straining (specificity, 100%; likelihood ratio, above 10; 101 patients). The features most strongly associated with STC alone were call to stool (specificity, 91.5%; likelihood ratio, 10.5; 75 patients) and absence of abdominal distension, fullness, or bloating (sensitivity, 92.9%; negative likelihood ratio, 0.1; 93 patients). Conclusions: In a systematic review, we found specific symptoms, lack of dyssynergia in a digital rectal exam, and findings on anorectal manometry to be highly informative and critical in evaluation of RED and STC.
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