Slow-transit constipation and criteria for colectomy: a cross-sectional study of 1568 patients.
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BACKGROUND: Colectomy remains a treatment option for a minority of patients with slow-transit constipation (STC) refractory to conservative treatment. However careful patient selection is essential to maximize benefits and minimize risk of adverse outcome. This study determined the proportion of patients with chronic constipation that would meet criteria for colectomy based on recent European graded practice recommendations derived by expert consensus. METHODS: Retrospective application of graded practice recommendations was undertaken on a prospectively maintained data set of consecutive adult patients with chronic constipation who underwent whole-gut transit studies using radio-opaque markers. Primary analysis applied contraindications achieving high level of expert consensus (normal whole-gut transit as an absolute contraindication and faecal incontinence as a relative contraindication for colectomy). Secondary analysis applied contraindications with less certain consensus. RESULTS: Primary analysis of 1568 patients undergoing a whole-gut transit study between January 2004 and March 2016 found 208 (13.3 per cent) met published criteria to be selected for colectomy, with 974 excluded for normal whole-gut transit and 386 for faecal incontinence. Secondary analysis demonstrated high prevalence of other relative contraindications to colectomy: 165 concomitant upper gastrointestinal symptoms, 216 abdominal pain (including 126 irritable bowel syndrome), and 446 evacuation disorder. The majority of patients (416 of 594) had two or more relative contraindications. If these patients were excluded, only 26 (1.7 per cent) chronically constipated patients retrospectively met selection criteria for colectomy. CONCLUSIONS: The retrospective application of selection criteria is a limitation. However, the data highlight the high prevalence of factors associated with poor postoperative outcome and provide further caution to surgeons undertaking colectomy for STC.