Is It a ‘Waste’ to Do Colonic Manometry in Kids with Autism?

A Coe et al. JPGN 2023; 76: 154-159. Evaluation of Chronic Constipation in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

In this retrospective study with 56 patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 123 controls underwent colonic manometry (CM). Key findings:

  • The rate of abnormal CM findings between ASD and matched controls (24% vs 20%, P = 0.78) did not differ significantly
  • The authors noted that higher rates of abnormal CM with duration of constipation and with soiling in children with ASD. However, “even in the minority of cases with abnormal colonic motility, chronic stool retention due to functional constipation over time likely caused impaired motility in the majority of these cases. In 6 of the 8 ASD cases with abnormal CM finding, impaired motility was isolated to the distal colon while normal motility occurred in the proximal colon.”

My take: In this highly-selected group of patients with ASD from specialized motility centers, only 2 had abnormal colonic motility affecting the entire colon. Overall, patients with ASD did NOT have higher rates of abnormal CM studies. Hence, for most children with ASD, CM has little value.

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