Patterns of colonic motility as recorded by a sham fecaloma reveal differences among patients with idiopathic chronic constipation

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By using a technique designated sham fecaloma, we were able to identify two types of segmentary motor phenomenon: displacement motor phenomena and nondisplacement motor phenomena. The aim of the study contained herein was to evaluate for identification of patients with different types of slow-transit constipation.


Studies were performed in healthy subjects (n=5; colonic transit time <30 hours) and in constipated patients (n=6; colonic transit time >125 hours; normal rectoanal manometry). A Foley®-type recording probe with two perfused catheters (proximal and distal) was used. A rigid sigmoidoscope was used to place the probe at the sigmoid colon. Values recorded by the distal catheter were subtracted (point by point) from the values recorded by the proximal catheter. Subtraction curves were analyzed to quantify characteristics of displacement motor phenomena (an anally directed pressure gradient) and nondisplacement motor phenomena (an orally directed pressure gradient).


All healthy subjects had contractions during the recording session. Displacement motor phenomena were predominant (displacement motor phenomena/30 minutes = 21.2±13.2; range, 3-39). Constipated patients yielded two different patterns: three patients had a very small number of contractions, and three patients had a prevalence of nondisplacement motor phenomena, with numbers similar to numbers of displacement motor phenomena in healthy subjects. A comparison of the patterns of constipated patients revealed a statistically significant difference (P=0.039).


Sham fecaloma is a simple and safe test. Constipated patients in this study had two different patterns of colonic motility scarce activity without haustration and normal activity without displacement motor phenomena. This method might be useful as a diagnostic tool for clarification of the pathophysiology of severe colonic motor disorders.

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