Slow transit constipation is a clinical syndrome predominantly affecting young women, characterized by constipation and delayed colonic transit, occasionally associated with pelvic floor dysfunction. The disorder spans a spectrum of variable severity, ranging from patients who have relatively mild delays in transit but who are otherwise indistinguishable from irritable bowel syndrome patients at one extreme, to patients with colonic inertia or chronic megacolon at the other extreme. Potential mechanisms for impaired colonic propulsion include fewer colonic HAPCs or a reduced colonic contractile response to a meal. The cause of the syndrome is unclear. The treatment is primarily medical; surgery is reserved for patients with severe disease or colonic inertia. Recognition and treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction is crucial for patients treated medically or surgically. Collaborative studies are necessary to determine the pathophysiology of this disorder and to ascertain the efficacy of novel prokinetic agents.
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