Characterization of the colonic response to bisacodyl in children with treatment-refractory constipation

Paul T. Heitmann, Lukasz Wiklendt, Nikhil Thapar, Osvaldo Borrelli, Carlo Di Lorenzo, Desalegn T. Yacob, Desiree F. Baaleman, Mana H. Vriesman, Samuel Nurko, Khalil El-Chammas, Ajay Kaul, Marc A. Benninga, Ilan J.N. Koppen, David A. Wattchow, Simon J.H. Brookes, Phil G. Dinning

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Colonic manometry with intraluminal bisacodyl infusion can be used to assess colonic neuromuscular function in children with treatment-refractory constipation. If bisacodyl does not induce high-amplitude propagating contractions (HAPCs), this can be an indication for surgical intervention. A detailed characterization of the colonic response to intraluminal bisacodyl in children with constipation may help to inform clinical interpretation of colonic manometry studies. Methods: Studies were performed in five pediatric hospitals. Analysis included identification of HAPCs, reporting HAPCs characteristics, and an area under the curve (AUC) analysis. Comparisons were performed between hospitals, catheter type, placement techniques, and site of bisacodyl infusion. Results: One hundred and sixty-five children were included (median age 10, range 1-17 years; n = 96 girls). One thousand eight hundred and ninety-three HAPCs were identified in 154 children (12.3 ± 8.8 HAPCs per child, 0.32 ± 0.21 HAPCs per min; amplitude 113.6 ± 31.5 mm Hg; velocity 8.6 ± 3.8 mm/s, propagation length 368 ± 175 mm). The mean time to first HAPC following bisacodyl was 553 ± 669 s. Prior to the first HAPC, there was no change in AUC when comparing pre- vs post-bisacodyl (Z = −0.53, P =.60). The majority of HAPCs terminated in a synchronous pressurization in the rectosigmoid. Defecation was associated with HAPCs (χ2(1)=7.04, P <.01). Site of bisacodyl administration, catheter type, and hospital location did not alter the response. Conclusions and Inferences: Intraluminal bisacodyl induced HAPCs in 93% of children with treatment-refractory constipation. The bisacodyl response is characterized by ≥1 HAPC within 12 minutes of infusion. The majority of HAPCs terminate in a synchronous pressurization in the rectosigmoid. Optimal clinical management based upon colonic manometry findings is yet to be determined.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13851
Number of pages11
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • bisacodyl
  • children
  • constipation
  • manometry


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