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Cost-effective treatment for children's constipation can save trips to hospital

Research News
Monday, June 22, 2015 - 2:45pm
Researchers from the Institute have trialled a new three-day laxative regime to treat children with severe constipation.

The combination of stool softener and stimulant is followed by four days of maintenance doses. The treatment costs just $18 and may save families a trip to hospital with their children.

The high-dose course of Movicol and Dulcolax SP drops is already used for bowel clearance prior to colonoscopy and has now been adapted for community use in children with faecal impaction. These children would usually require hospital admission for enemas or manual disimpaction under anaesthesia.

The trial involving 44 children with constipation showed that the treatment successfully treated all children and in the following week, there was no soiling or complications.

Lead author Julie Jordan Ely says that the cheap treatment could help reduce costs for hospitals. “Many children present to hospital with severe constipation, and this can cost thousands of dollars for outpatient care, enemas and suppositories. Compared this to our treatment, which costs less than $20, and it is easy to see how we can transform constipation care for the better.”

Researchers found it was 100% successful in disimpaction when used in a nurse-led suburban clinic, where nursing staff taught patients basic continence management of toilet timing and correct toilet positioning to better enable efficient and effective toileting.

A 2014 study by the Institute found that a lack of awareness and knowledge about childhood constipation is putting avoidable stress on emergency rooms and costing the Victorian economy millions of dollars a year.  Read more about this research here.