An 8-Year-Old Boy With Treatment-Resistant Encopresis

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Abstract

CASE:

Paul is an 8-year-old boy with a long-standing history of encopresis and enuresis. Potty training was initiated when he was 21/2 years old. At this time, his mother was absent from the home for 6 weeks when she cared for her ill father in a different city. The process of teaching Paul to use the bathroom was described as “inconsistent” due to multiple caretakers.

CASE:

Paul never successfully mastered bowel and bladder control. He continues to wet and soil his clothes on a daily basis at home and school. According to his parents, he does not accept responsibility and comments about his soiling such as, “I didn't do it; someone else must have put it there.” One of Paul's teachers commented that she could tell at the beginning of the school day whether he would maintain bowel and bladder control. If he was “agitated and talkative” in the early morning, he would often soil that day.

CASE:

He had a pediatric gastroenterological evaluation at the age of 5 years when he was having daily episodes of stool soiling. Physical examination revealed normal anal tone, normal placement of the anus, and moderate stool in the rectal vault. An abdominal radiograph revealed moderate stool throughout the colon. He was treated with Miralax and instructed to sit on the toilet twice daily. Paul did not respond to these interventions and was diagnosed with “overflow incontinence secondary to stool withholding.” When he was taking Miralax, he had a normal barium enema radiograph. He was admitted to the hospital for a cleanout with a polyethylene glycol/electrolyte solution.

CASE:

Although abdominal radiographs demonstrated absence of colonic stool for the following 5 months, he continued to soil his clothing. Play therapy and biofeedback did not change the chronic soiling and wetting pattern. An evaluation at the Continence Clinic resulted in a rigorous program including stooling after each meal, wearing a vibrating watch reminding him to void every 2 hours, drinking 60 ounces of water per day, tracking elimination patterns on a calendar, and a daily laxative (polyethylene glycol). A neuropsychological evaluation revealed a superior aptitude associated with unresolved early childhood issues of self-control, self-care, and frustration tolerance. Family therapy was initiated. However, daily fecal soiling and wetting persisted.

CASE:

Paul was born full-term without prenatal or perinatal complications. He was breast fed for 1 year and described as an easy baby. He achieved motor, social, and language milestone on time. Paul had difficulty with separation and aggression in preschool (e.g., biting). In school, teachers report inattention, fidgetiness, and difficulty following directions. He has been obese since age 3 years; his current body mass index is 29.

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