A careful clinical evaluation, exclusion of secondary causes (eg, colonic obstruction, metabolic conditions [hypothyroidism, hypercalcemia], and drug-induced constipation), and assessments of colonic transit and rectal evacuation are necessary to ascertain whether constipation is attributable to normal colonic transit, delayed colonic transit (ie, slow-transit constipation), or a rectal evacuation disorder (with or without delayed colonic transit). Idiopathic slow-transit constipation is a clinical syndrome predominantly affecting women and is characterized by intractable constipation and delayed colonic transit. This syndrome is attributed to disordered colonic motor function and spans a spectrum of variable severity ranging from patients who have relatively mild delays in transit, but are otherwise indistinguishable from irritable bowel syndrome, at one extreme to patients with colonic inertia or chronic megacolon at the other extreme. Most patients are treated with one or more pharmacological agent. A subtotal colectomy is effective and occasionally indicated for patients with medically refractory severe slow-transit constipation, provided that pelvic floor dysfunction has been excluded or treated. Pelvic floor dysfunction can be, diagnosed by the clinical features and anorectal testing. Most patients with pelvic floor dysfunction will respond to pelvic floor retraining by biofeedback therapy.
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